Unlocking the Mystery of Assessment Tool Development: An In-depth Guide Leave a comment


Assessments are an integral part of the Australian VET system. They impact the various aspects of the VET system. A foolproof assessment strategy is evidence of  

  • Quality Assurance 
  • Compliance 
  • Learner Outcomes 
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) 
  • Industry Relevance 

And lastly (but not limited to), it infuses confidence in government investment in training programs.

All stakeholders (Students, RTOs, and Employers) of the VET system rely on Assessments for Skills development and career growth. It is pertinent to the Australian RTOs to provide and create assessment guides and tools that are compliant to ASQA.

The ASQA has given ‘The User’s Guide to the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015’ with detailed actionable steps explaining Assessment Tool Development.

In this blog we are unlocking the mystery of assessment tool development. It is an in-depth guide for RTOs developing their own assessment tools.

But first let us understand what an assessment tool is.

What is an assessment tool? What are its components?

An assessment tool, also known as an evidence-gathering tool, includes the instrument and instructions for gathering and interpreting evidence during an assessment process.

It plays a crucial role in ensuring effective and safe assessment practices implemented by RTOs within a quality assurance framework.

Components of an assessment tool

  • Context and assessment conditions: Specifies the setting and circumstances in which the assessment will take place.
  • Tasks for the learner: Describes the activities or exercises that the learner needs to complete as part of the assessment.
  • Evidence to be gathered: Outlines the specific information or proof that needs to be collected from the learner.
  • Evidence criteria for quality judgement: Defines the standards or rules used to evaluate and assess the quality of the learner’s performance.
  • Administration, recording, and reporting requirements: Covers the procedures and guidelines for managing the assessment process, documenting results, and generating reports.
  • Assessment instrument:The tasks administered to the learner, the evidence outlines, and the criteria for judging performance quality are collectively referred to as the assessment instrument.

Understanding the Standards for Assessment Tool Development

For any RTO that needs devising their own assessment tools must understand the related aspects of tool development. ASQA’s ‘User Guide RTO Standards 2015’ has all the necessary details and steps explained in it.

This section of the blog explains all the aspects that are necessary to develop the tools like assessment requirements, clusters, how to implement rules of evidence etc. This section will also be helpful in understanding the steps to assessment tool development mentioned below.

Brief of Clauses 1.8 and 1.9 from ASQA Guide

The Clauses 1.8 and 1.9 give directives on how to conduct an effective assessment.

Clause 1.8

The RTO creates and executes an assessment system that also includes recognition of prior learning. The assessment confirms

a) the assessment system is in line with assessment requirements of the VET certified course or the training package.

b) The assessment system complies with the ‘Principles of Assessment’ and ‘Rules of Evidence’

(See Table 1 & 2)

Table 1- Principles of Assessment


The assessment process duly considers the learner’s needs for the process.


Based on demands RTOs apply reasonable adjustments to the assessment process.


Every learner is made fully aware of the assessment process in advance.


(Note- The learner has the full right to challenge the outcome of the assessment and even reappear for an assessment if required.)




Different learners can have diverse needs and their assessments will compensate for these needs.


Assessments will be competent to assess learner’s knowledge irrespective of the medium of learning (face to face/ digital/ hybrid)


Assessments will be a healthy amalgamation of different assessment methods that are a perfect match to context, units of competency and assessment requirements.




RTOs decide the assessment process based on the performance of each learner.


For a valid performance, the assessment must be done for units of competency and related assessment essentials that span all skills and knowledge.


For a valid performance, practical skills and related theory learning must be in collaboration.


For a valid performance, the learner should be able to extend acquired skills and knowledge to similar environments.


A valid performance judgement is based on units of competency and related assessment essentials.




All assessment performances are continuously explained and studied.


The results of the assessments will be cohesive across every assessor.



Table 2- Rule of evidence



The conductor or assessor is sure that the learner’s skills, credits, and knowledge are a match to the learning module.



The volume and relevance of assessment evidence are sufficient for an assessor to give judgement.




The conductor of assessment is sure that assessment evidence is the learner’s original work.



The assessor is sure that the evidence is of the latest competency, that is why only latest assessments are assessed.


Clause 1.9

  • RTOs creates and executes an end-to-end systematic plan for assessment systems and judgements.
  • This includes every training product on the scope of registration of the RTO.
  • RTO decides the time of validation
  • RTO decides the training products that will be validated
  • RTO decides the assessors and participants of the validation process
  • RTO decides the method of recording the validation process and further activity.

Assessment Requirements for Competency Units

RTOs need to develop and deliver assessment tools to meet learner’s and employer’s needs. These tools not only conduct effective assessment, but they also maximise credibility of RTOs.

The assessment requirements are classified into three categories:

Performance Evidence– is a proof of knowledge of the necessary both practical skills and learning of training material required for completion.

Knowledge Evidence – is also a proof of knowledge of the necessary both practical skills and learning of training material required for completion.

Assessment conditions (sometimes also known as ‘required skills and knowledge ‘or ‘evidence guide’) – is an indicator of the environment in which the learner must demonstrate the skills. This also includes assessment context, resource requirements and qualifications of both trainers and assessors.

RTOs while planning assessments for each unit of competency, must ensure to include all units even the performance criteria. Though it is not a necessity to develop separate activities for every requirement, the assessment must cover all units. To avoid repeating units with the same requirements can be ‘clustered’ together.

What is a cluster? Why should RTOs consider units of competency to be clustered?

Clustering is a process used by RTOs in developing learning and assessment materials. It focuses on meeting the requirements of groups or clusters of competency units instead of individual units.

Benefits of clustering for RTOs

  • Holistic evidence gathering:

Clustering maximises the chances of gathering comprehensive evidence during the assessment process.

  • Increased efficiency:

By clustering units, both the trainer/assessor and the learner can optimise their efforts, making the process more efficient.

How RTOs Implement the Principles of Assessment


  • RTOs offer recognition of prior learning to all students during enrolment or before training starts.
  • RTOs make necessary adjustments to the training and assessment program to accommodate individual student’s needs.
  • RTOs also ensure students are well-informed about the assessment process and performance expectations.
  • Consider further training for students unable to meet assessment requirements initially.
  • Establish an appeals process for students to challenge assessment decisions objectively by the RTOs.


  • RTOs must provide recognition of prior learning opportunities for all students.
  • Acknowledgment by RTOs that students may have already demonstrated some competencies through alternative means.
  • RTOs must employ a variety of assessment methods to make valid decisions and recognise diverse demonstrations of competence.


  • To validate students are required to apply skills and knowledge across relevant environments and contexts.
  • The RTOs must align assessment tasks and methods with assessment requirements.
  • RTOs must assess practical skills by observing students performing tasks in appropriate settings or simulations.
  • Focus of the RTOs must be on assessing knowledge that directly relates to task performance.


  • RTOs must maintain consistent assessment judgements across different students and assessors within the same unit or module.
  • RTOs must establish an assessment system that fully outlines the context and conditions for assessors.
  • RTOs must design a uniform assessment system to minimise variation between assessors.
  • Evidence criteria must be defined to guide assessors’ decision-making and ensure consistent judgments.
  • RTOs must prepare model answers and descriptions of required observations for assessing skills and practical knowledge.
  • RTOs need to establish broad benchmarks for practical skills activities, allowing for task variations while emphasising observable behaviours.

How RTOs Implement the Rules of Evidence


  • RTOs ensure that the evidence relates to the competency being assessed.
  • RTOs establish a clear relationship between the assessment task, evidence presented to the student, and assessment requirements.


  • The gathered evidence through the assessment process should suffice to make a valid judgement of competence.
  • RTOs should also recognise that the quantity of evidence needed may vary for different students based on their learning pace and current skill level.


  • RTOs must ensure that evidence belongs to the student being assessed and truly reflects their skills and knowledge.
  • RTOs must verify the student credentials, particularly in distance or online learning environments, to prevent malpractice.
  • RTOs can utilise online systems to check for plagiarism or identical content in independent study submissions.


  • RTOs must assess the validity of evidence based on the time elapsed since its generation.
  • Consider the relevance of evidence to determine if it demonstrates current competence.
  • RTOs should only recognise evidence from the most recent competence.
  • Assessing industry-specific currency, acknowledging the need for up-to-date skills and knowledge in certain fields.
  • Making informed judgments about currency, taking into account the possibility of “gap training” programs for updating skills.

Validation of Assessment

Validation is a process review. The review is done for the assessment judgements conducted by the RTOs. It is done after the assessment process is complete and must be done systematically.

The aim of validation is to confirm that the RTO’s assessment system has valid judgements. Validation also indicates that the learners or students possess in demand industry skills and knowledge.

Engaging with Industry:

Validation may involve industry engagement.

Validation in the Standards for RTOs 2015:

The Standards define validation as a quality review of the assessment process.

It ensures assessment tools produce:

Valid, reliable, sufficient, current, and authentic evidence.

A statistically valid sample of assessments is reviewed.

Recommendations are made for improving assessment tools, processes, and outcomes.

How to Validate?

Each training product on RTO’s scope of registration must undergo validation at least once every five years.

(Note- Specific risks or ASQA’s recommendations may require more frequent validation.)

To validate these steps must be taken by RTOs:

  • Sampling Approach to Validation:

To conduct validation systematically, a valid sampling approach is advisable. It ensures a quality review and represents all assessment judgements.

(Note- ASQA’s validation sample size calculator helps determine the required sample size, which might be smaller than expected.)

  • Choosing Validators:

RTOs can decide on the number of validators. It can both be a member or team. Validators should not be directly involved with delivery and assessment for the training product being validated. They should have necessary vocational competencies, current industry skills and knowledge, and relevant training and assessment qualifications. Validators should also have current knowledge and skills in vocational teaching and learning.

(Note – Trainers and assessors can participate in validation activities if they were not directly involved in the specific instance being validated.)

Where Can an RTO Find the Best Assessment Kits?

At VET resources we take pride in providing the best Assessment kits. We offer hassle free compliance of the assessment kits. With adaptable e-learning resources that are easy to contextualise you will save both time and money. Enjoy unlimited student licences and free lifetime updates. We provide assessment kits that are made in guidance of industry professionals and experts. For more information or to buy assessment kits contact us here 1800 959 958.

The information presented on the VET Resources blog is for general guidance only. While we strive for accuracy, we cannot guarantee the completeness or timeliness of the information. VET Resources is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Always consult a professional for advice tailored to your circumstances.

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