Program development guidelines

Ross Woods, rev. 2018



These guidelines were intended to be a practical interpretation of the requirements of a previous framework, expressed in a step-by-step manner. They were not policy, as ACAS programs grew up in many different ways. However, the requirements were difficult to get right and guidelines appeared to be helpful.



Step one: Look at your students and their needs.

This rationale is:

Look at the students:


Step two: Write a job description of what graduates will do.

A job description is a very clear way of setting your goals in a way that everybody can understand.


Step three: Look at the training package

  1. Identify requirements of Training Package
  2. Check the assessment guidelines  in the package or accredited course
  3. Customise (contextualise) it for your situation
  4. Check which units are core and which are electives


Step four: Look at your resources

You must have access to all necessary resources, including staff, facilities, equipment, training materials and assessment materials to do the job.

They need to match your scale of operations, which means that if your organization is small you'll need less of them than if you were large. The resources have to accommodate the number of students you have, their needs, and the way you teach and assess. They also need to  be adequate for off-campus and on-line students.


Step five: Negotiate learning and assessment strategies

  1. Start by consulting industry and getting their input. You are not required to give industry absolute control over what you do, but neither should you write up whatever you want and ask them to simply agree to it. The AQTF does not say what should be the outcome of consultation but the point seems to be:
    1. define or confirm current workplace requirements and
    2. confirm that your assessment strategy will work in that context.
  2. Determine how you will validate your assessments. Validation is usually defined as reviewing, comparing and evaluating the assessment processes, tools and evidence. Compare the work of a range of assessors against the same competency standards. You might do this internally in your organization if you involve stakeholders, or you can do it with other providers and/or stakeholders.
  3. If you'll give the training and assessments in the workplace, negotiate with the employer and students. You'll need to work with the employer to integrate any on-the-job training and assessment. You'll also need to schedule workplace visits to monitor and review the training and assessment
  4. If you are providing and Apprenticeship or a Traineeship under a contract, you must develop written Training Plans for each individual students. They must include all relevant off-the-job training and structured workplace training.


Step six: Plan appropriate learning strategies

  1. Identify potential delivery resources
  2. Consider use of the workplace
  3. Consider on-line and distance modes
  4. Write down your plan of how you will deliver and assess it.
  5. Access and/or develop all required resources
  6. Communicate requirements to learners
  7. Evaluate learning strategies based on feedback from students and any other stakeholders
  8. If you're giving either assessment or training on-line or by distance, put in place strategies for student support and monitoring. And check that they are effective


Step seven: Develop assessment tools and documentation system

  1. Access and/or develop all required resources
  2. The quality standard says little about tools but the only way you can comply with some requirements is to have auditable tools.
  3. Develop record-keeping and reporting processes.
  4. Develop decision-making processes
  5. Evaluate assessment strategies
  6. Document any action you take to improve the quality and consistency of assessment.

So what is required?

The RTO needs to be able to prove that each separate requirement is addressed. The issue is not whether or not you comply, but whether you can demonstrate in detail that you comply with all assessment requirements. Just claiming to meet the requirements is inadequate.

This might be done by:

Until recently, mapping could be a narrative of how you did it. It seems that is no longer permitted.

In particular, this means:

  1. Show that you've taught each element.
  2. Ensure every aspect of each element is addressed in delivery and assessment.
  3. Show that you are drawing conclusions according to the assessment criteria.
  4. Ensure any "must" requirements in the range of variables are addressed. (Hint: Do a word search on "must" in the electronic copy of the unit.)
  5. Address critical aspects of performance.
  6. Ensure all required knowledge is assessed.
  7. Match assessment to the qualification level in the Australian Qualifications Framework.
  8. Match assessment to the key competencies if the package requires it.


Step eight: Check your assessment preparation

Check that:

  1. you have complied with the Assessment Guidelines in the training package
  2. you plan to gather sufficient evidence
  3. your assessments are valid
  4. your assessments are reliable
  5. your assessments are fair
  6. your assessments are flexible
  7. your assessments are equitable
  8. assessments reflect dimensions of competency task skills, task management skills, contingency management skills and job role environment skills
  9. where relevant, you have focused on the application of knowledge and skill to the standard of performance required in the workplace
  10. where relevant, you have covered all aspects of workplace performance.
  11. you have suitable assessors available
  12. your customisation meets the requirements in the Training Package

Then check with industry again to ensure that your assessment tools will work for them.


Step nine: Implement your training

  1. Implement training as planned. The quality standard doesn't say much about the actual quality of teaching itself, although it has ways to monitor its effectiveness and improve it (e.g. client feedback, continual improvement) and requires that the teacher has the required competencies in instruction.
  2. If you're giving training and assessments in the workplace, visit workplaces to monitor and review how its going.
  3. Implement the individual Training Plans and monitor them for each apprentice or trainee.


Step ten: Implement your assessment

  1. Tell students the context and purpose of the assessment and the assessment process. That is, under what conditions, why they are doing it that way, and how they will be assessed.
  2. Implement assessment as planned
  3. Give students feedback on how they went in the assessment
  4. Give students guidance on future options if relevant
  5. Ensure learners have access to appeals process


Step eleven: Validate your assessment strategies

  1. Validate your assessment strategies and tools.
  2. Evaluate assessment strategies.
  3. Document any action you take to improve the quality and consistency of assessment.