Fair and flexible assessment and reasonable adjustment

Reasonable adjustment refers to measures or actions taken to provide a student with a disability the same educational opportunities as everyone else. To be reasonable, adjustments must be appropriate for that person, must not create undue hardship for a RTO and must be allowable within rules defined by the training package.

Engaging in reasonable adjustment activities, such as assisting students to identify their learning needs or offering a wide variety of course options and delivery modes, exemplifies good training and assessment practice.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 makes it unlawful for an education service provider to discriminate against someone because the person has a disability. The Disability Standards for Education 2005 provide greater clarity on areas where reasonable adjustment can be applied. People with a disability who believe an education service provider has not made reasonable adjustment to respond to their needs can complain formally to the Australian Human Rights Commission or their state or territory anti-discrimination bodies.

Determining reasonable adjustment

Participants in VET could have a range of disabilities such as:

  • learning disabilities
  • sensory impairments (including vision, hearing or speech impairment)
  • physical or mobility impairments
  • psychological or psychiatric impairments (or mental illness)
  • cerebral palsy or head injury, which may result in multiple impairments
  • medical conditions including HIV or AIDS, cancer, or chronic fatigue syndrome (which may result in multiple disabilities)
  • intellectual disabilities.

In most situations the person with the disability will be able to tell educators what adjustments they need to be able to study. If necessary, educators should also seek advice from government agencies or support organisations to determine what needs to be done to accommodate an individual’s needs.

Reasonable adjustment activities could involve:

  • modifying or providing equipment
  • changing assessment procedures
  • changing course delivery
  • modifying premises.

Reference: Queensland Department of Education Training and the Arts, Training Packages @ Work—Back 2 Basics Edition 4: a guide to Australia’s vocational education and training system for teachers and trainers, 2011 (funded by Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations)

Fair and flexible assessment

Two of the four principles of assessment are fair and flexible.

Fairness

  • The individual learner’s needs are considered in the assessment process.
  • Where appropriate, reasonable adjustments are applied by the RTO to take into account the individual learner’s needs.
  • The RTO informs the learner about the assessment process, and provides the learner with the opportunity to challenge the result of the assessment and be reassessed if necessary.

Implementation of fairness:

  • At enrolment or prior to commencement of training, make recognition of prior learning available to all students. Ensure any required adjustments are made to the training and assessment program for each student.
  • Consider the student’s needs in the assessment process and make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the student (such as providing oral rather than written assessment). However, don’t compromise the rigour of the assessment process (e.g. if there is a requirement to complete documentation in a unit of competency, oral assessment would not be appropriate).
  • Ensure the student is fully informed of the assessment process and performance expectations before undertaking assessment.
  • If a student is unable to complete the required task to the level described in the assessment requirements, consider whether they need further training before being reassessed. Sound enrolment processes will help to identify the needs of students and avoid students being enrolled in a course that they will not be able to complete.
  • Have an appeals process to provide an avenue for students to challenge an assessment decision and to have it reviewed objectively.

Flexibility

Assessment is flexible to the individual learner by:

  • reflecting the learner’s needs,
  • assessing competencies held by the learner no matter how or where they have been acquired, and
  • drawing from a range of assessment methods and using those that are appropriate to the context, the unit of competency and associated assessment requirements, and the individual.

Implementation of flexibility:

  • At enrolment or prior to commencement of training, make recognition of prior learning available to all students. Ensure any required adjustments are made to the training and assessment program for that student.
  • Take the student into account in the assessment process, and recognise that they may already have demonstrated some
    aspects of the unit through other means. If individual students have demonstrated current skills and knowledge, they should not be required to be reassessed in those areas, unless the previous demonstration of skills or knowledge was in a significantly different context or environment.
  • Use a range of assessment methods to help produce valid decisions and recognise that students demonstrate competence in a
    variety of ways.

Reference: Australian Skills Quality Authority, Users’ guide to the Standard for Registered Training Organisations 2015, Version 2, 2017

What is the difference between reasonable adjustment and the implementing fair and flexible processes?

An RTO is required to make adjustments based on a learner’s needs and characteristics.

The complaint process is about the only difference between reasonable adjustment and the implementing fair and flexible processes.

A learner with a disability

A learner with a disability should first make their complaint directly to the RTO. If they are not satisfied with how their complaint was resolved, they may contact the Australian Government’s Complaints Hotline for advice and assistance. However, if they believe they have been discriminated against they contact the Australian Human Rights Commission or their state or territory anti-discrimination authority.

A learner without a disability

A learner without a disability should first make their complaint directly to the RTO. If they are not satisfied with how their complaint was resolved, they may contact the Australian Government’s Complaints Hotline for advice and assistance.

The phone number of the Complaints Hotline is 13 38 73, then select option 4.

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