What is a validated LLN assessment tool?

Many people studying for their TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment qualification will need to know what a ‘validated LLN assessment tool’ is. This is because Performance Criteria 1.3 of the TAELLN411 Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills unit of competency requires a person to demonstrate they can ‘determine the LLN skills of the learner group from validated tools and other sources’.

This article answers the following questions:

  • What is the ACSF?
  • What is a validated LLN assessment tool?
  • Is an RTO required to use a validated LLN assessment tool?
  • What is an approved LLN assessment tool?
  • When is an RTO required to use an approved LLN assessment tool?

What is the ACSF?

We need to understand the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) before we can understand what a ‘validated LLN assessment tool’ is. The ACSF has been developed to provide a consistent national approach to identifying and developing five core skills: learning, reading, writing, oral communication, and numeracy. A copy of the ACSF can be download from the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

Reference: https://www.dese.gov.au/skills-information-training-providers/australian-core-skills-framework accessed 18 January 2022

Reference: https://www.dese.gov.au/skills-information-training-providers/australian-core-skills-framework/download-acsf accessed 18 January 2022

Step 3 – Download the Microsoft Word or PDF file

Reference: https://www.dese.gov.au/skills-information-training-providers/resources/australian-core-skills-framework accessed 18 January 2022

The ACSF document has a very plain cover page (as shown below).

The ACSF document consists of:

  • an introduction to the ACSF, pages 1 to 10
  • examples showing how to use the ACSF, pages 11 to 14
  • statement that the AQF does not match up directly with the performance levels of the ACSF, page 15.

The first 15 pages are worth reading to get a basic understanding about the ACSF. The remainder of the ACSF document gives detailed descriptions for each level of each core skill. The ACSF is a 5 x 5 framework:

  • 5 core skills: learning, reading, writing, oral communication, and numeracy
  • 5 level of performance ranging from one (low level performance) to five (high level performance) for each core skill

Each core skill has been colour-coded (as shown below).

What is a validated LLN assessment tool?

The term, ‘validated LLN assessment tool’, has nothing to do with assessment validation. A validated LLN assessment tool is a diagnostic assessment used to ascertain a person’s language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Using a validated LLN assessment tool is a method of determining an individual’s LLN skill levels. It is usual for the ACSF to be used as the basis to describe an individual’s performance for the five core skills.

A validated LLN assessment tool is usually a set of questions or tasks designed to determine an individual’s ACSF skill levels. The tool has been ‘validated’. In other words, it has been tested for validity and reliability:

  • validity means the LLN assessment tool can produce true results
  • reliability means the LLN assessment tool can produce consistent results.

For example, if a validated LLN assessment tool determines that a person has an ACSF reading level of 3, then there is a high probability that the person’s ACSF reading level is 3.

A self-assessment questionnaire is not a validated LLN assessment tool. For example, asking a learner the following questions will not properly determine their current LLN skill level:

  • When learning new things, do you need information to be repeated in order to understand it?
  • Do you struggle with learning that requires you to conduct your own research?
  • Do you possess English writing skills to at least a Year 10 level?
  • Do you have mathematical skills to at least a Year 10 level?
  • Can you speak English to at least a Year 10 level?
  • Is English your second language?

Instead of using subjective self-assessment questions, the ACSF can be used to conduct a 3-step process for determining if a person will have any LLN skill gaps.

Step 1 – Determine the ACSF level required

The following illustrates a graphing technique that can be used to record the ACSF level required. This can be done for a unit of competency. However, it would be more common for it to be done for an entire qualification or skill set.

Step 2 – Determine the individual’s current ACSF level of performance

The following illustrates a graphing technique that overlays the individual’s current ACSF level of performance. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘spiky profile’.

Step 3 – Analyse LLN skill gaps

The graph can be used to identify any LLN skill gaps. In the above example, the most critical gap is for writing skills. Writing skills at the ACSF Level 4 is required but the person currently has writing skills at the ACSF Level 2. Also, the person’s reading and oral communication skills are less than what is required. Most likely this person would struggle during the training program if relevant and adequate support was not provided.

Is an RTO required to use a validated LLN assessment tool?

The Standards for RTOs, Clause 1.7, states:

The RTO determines the support needs of individual learners and provides access to the educational and support services necessary for the individual learner to meet the requirements of the training product as specified in training packages or VET [vocational education and training] accredited courses.

RTOs will conduct a pre-training review to determine support needs of learners. And this will include determining a learner’s current LLN skills. It does not imply that a validated LLN assessment tool must be used. Therefore, it is up to the RTO to decide what tool they shall use.

An example of a validated LLN assessment tool

The Core Skills Profile for Adults is an example of a validated LLN assessment tool. It is has been developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Further information is available from: https://www.acer.org/au/cspa

I am not endorsing ACER’s Core Skills Profile for Adult. I am offering this as information for TAE40116 students to conduct their own further research about validated LLN assessment tools.

What is an approved LLN assessment tool?

You are unlikely to find a list of validated LLN assessment tools. But the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment has provided a very short list of approved LLN assessment tools.

Reference: https://www.dese.gov.au/vet-student-loans/language-literacy-and-numeracy-lln-assessment-tool-information assessed 18 January 2022

These approved LLN assessment tools have been assessed by the Department as being LLN assessment tools that are validated. This is not to say that these tools are the only validated LLN assessment tools.

When is an RTO required to use an approved LLN assessment tool?

When an RTO is receiving government funding or a learner is requesting government-funded study assistance (such as VET Student Loans (VSL)), the RTO will need a proper process to determine a learner’s current LLN skills and identify support needed. This is when an approved LLN assessment tool would need to be used by the RTO.

In conclusion

Some people struggle with various topics and terminologies used during their TAE40116 studies. For example:

  • What is a validated LLN assessment tool?
  • What is the ACSF? And how can the ACSF be used?
  • What techniques can be used to identify LLN skill gaps?

My TAE Tutoring service has been designed to help you with your studies.

Do you want more information? Ring Alan Maguire on 0493 065 396 to discuss.

Contact now!

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Training trainers since 1986

Author: Alan Maguire

35+ years experience as a trainer, instructional designer, quality manager, project manager, program manager, RTO auditor, RTO manager and VET adviser.

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