What is integrated assessment?
Units of competency specify the standards of performance required in the workplace.  Each unit of competency describes a specific work activity or task, however, a small number of units may describe a body of knowledge or an essential skill.
- The BSBMED301 Interpret and apply medical terminology appropriately unit covers the application of a body of knowledge
- The BSBCRT311 Apply critical thinking skills in a team environment unit covers an essential skill.
Individual units of competency are rarely performed in isolation in the workplace. Typical job roles involve a number of related tasks. Integrated assessment is the simultaneous assessment of two or more related units of competency, and it is an efficient and authentic evidence gathering method, because it more closely reflects the real nature of work. 
The following scenario shall be used to explain how to identify integrated assessment opportunities.
Let’s say, you work for an RTO that has been contracted by a community-based youth employment service to deliver some training. This client has been granted government funding to implement an innovative youth training and employment program.
Learners are early school leavers, typically with poor literacy skills, aged between 17 and 21.
The training program aims to prepare unemployed youth for basic office administration work. The client wants an emphasis on the development of computer skills.
A recent survey of local businesses identified that most use Microsoft Office applications. Several meetings with the client have occurred. The client has agreed to the delivery of the BSB20120 Certificate II in Workplace Skills qualification.
The training program shall be structured around four topics or learning blocks: work safely, work effectively, work sustainably, and use technology.
The following lists the ten (10) units of competency that will make up the BSB20120 Certificate II in Workplace Skills qualification.
The following gives an example about how to plan for integrated assessment. It focuses on the four units of competency covered by the ‘Use technology’ cluster:
- ICTICT102 Operate word-processing applications
- BSBTEC202 Use digital technologies to communicate in a work environment
- BSBTEC201 Use business software applications
- BSBOPS101 Use business resources
Step 1. Comprehend performance evidence requirements
Read the elements and performance criteria to identify the scope of performance required. And read the Performance Evidence to identify the volume or frequency of evidence that is specified. For example:
Step 2. Create table
Create a table to assist with identifying typical work tasks and mapping the units of competency. For example:
Step 3. List typical work tasks
List the typical tasks performed in the workplace. For example:
Step 4. Map units of competency to typical work tasks
Use the table to identify any overlap. For example:
Step 5. Identify opportunities for integrated assessment
Assessment options are:
- Gather performance evidence for a single unit during training
- Gather performance evidence for multiple units during training
- Gather performance evidence from the workplace
- Combination of the above three.
Integrated assessment is when we gather performance evidence for multiple units. The following two examples have been designed to give a simple illustration of opportunities for integrated assessment. But do not be deceived by the apparent simplicity. From this point onward, the development of the assessment tool can get complex, and non-compliance with the Training Package requirements can easily occur.
Opportunity # 1
The ICTICT102 Operate word-processing applications unit has an element of competency that requires the candidate to print documents. And using a printer is covered by the BSBOPS101 Use business resources unit. Therefore, when a candidate prints a document, they can be producing evidence for the two units of competency.
The evidence produced when the candidate prints documents must ensure the performance criteria and any relevant assessment requirements for both units, ICTICT102 and BSBOPS101, are covered. This is necessary to ensure compliance with the specified Training Package requirements.
Opportunity # 2
The BSBTEC201 Use business software applications unit requires the candidate to have evidence of using at least three business software applications on two occasions each.
In this example, the ICTICT102 Operate word-processing applications unit has been contextualised for using Microsoft Word. This can be one of the three business software applications required for the BSBTEC201 unit.
If the candidate produces one or two Microsoft Word documents as evidence for the ICTICT102 unit, this same evidence can be used for the BSBTEC201 unit. However, much more evidence will still be required to satisfy the volume or frequency of evidence specified by the BSBTEC201 unit.
The above five steps explain how to identify opportunities for integrated assessment.
The next activity would be to design and develop the assessment tools.
Example 2. Use diagrams to show connection
The following gives an example about how a diagram can be used to see connections and uncover opportunities for integrated assessment. It focuses on the four units of competency covered by the ‘Work effectively’ cluster.
Communication skills are used when we manage time. Communication skills are used when we solve problems. Communications skills, time management skills, and problem solving skills are all used when we perform work. These are the opportunities for integrated assessment.
Example 3. Holistic assessment
The examples above are for integrated assessment within a cluster of units. In the case of the BSB20120 Certificate II in Workplace Skills qualification, there is opportunity for a holistic assessment across the four topics or learning blocks. An RTO may decide to follow a relatively simple pathway commencing and completing each unit or cluster before moving onto the next. But each unit or cluster is not an independent or discrete activity or task performed in the workplace. It is common for an overlap.
The holistic assessment needs an end-of-program assessment in a workplace or a simulated workplace. This will add further complexity to the assessment approach, assessment tools, and assessment reporting processes.
The following shows how opportunities for integrated or holistic assessment for all units of competency can be identified.
- The first work task on the list below, ‘Check work area is safe’, relates to gathering assessment evidence for a single unit of competency.
- The second work task, ‘Plan and prioritise work tasks’, can overlap five units of competency and is across two clusters.
- You can complete the remainder of the matrix, if you want, but I hope you can see the method for identifying integrated assessment opportunities.
Integrated assessment will add complexity to the assessment approach but it still can be simply organised for learners so that they do not have a confusing or complicated experience.
Government funding contracts can work against the concept of integrated or holistic assessments when there is a payment to RTOs for the completion of units. An RTO will most likely want to secure a positive cash flow by completing units or clusters as soon as possible, rather than waiting to the end of a program to receive payments from the government.
The concept of integrated assessments is important because it more closely reflects the real nature of work.
 Standards for Training Packages https://docs.employment.gov.au/documents/standards-training-packages accessed 20 November 2020
 Back 2 Basics Fact Sheet – Assessment https://www.myskills.gov.au/media/1781/back-to-basics-vet-assessment.pdf accessed 20 November 2020
Australia’s VET system
Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system is complex and forever changing. People studying for their TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification may find useful information on this website. Tap or click on the following ABC logo to find out more.
This article supplements the TAE resources that have been developed by On Target Work Skills.
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