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QCTO criteria for Assessment Quality Partners (AQP)

AQPs are assigned to implement external integrated summative assessments of specified NQF registered occupational qualifications and part qualifications.

Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO)

The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) is established in terms of the Skills Development Act, Act No. 97 of 1998 as amended. In terms of section 26H(3) of this Act, the QCTO is responsible for the development, maintenance and quality assurance of occupational qualifications within its sub-framework.

Assessment Quality Partners (AQPs)

An AQP is a body assigned by the QCTO to manage and coordinate the external integrated summative assessments of specified NQF registered occupational qualifications and part qualifications.

This means that assessment centres will emerge to provide summative assessment processes to accredited training providers. It is hoped that this will streamline and standardise an industry relevant approach to assessment.

Qualification Development Process

The QCTO uses Development Quality Partners (DQPs) to manage and fund the development of occupational qualifications where the QCTO is an active participant in the process of monitoring, overseeing and ensuring that there are appropriate reports.

Each DQP, on recommendation of the Community of Expert Practitioners, must recommend to the QCTO an Assessment Quality Partner (AQP) that will develop qualification assessment specifications during the qualification development process and manage external summative assessments thereafter, in addition to performing an array of administrative functions as described in Section 6 below.

The QCTO qualification development model requires that the AQPs  sign Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with the QCTO during the qualification development process.

Why this approach?

The QCTO has an objective to establish a streamlined, cost-efficient and effective skills development system that responds to the needs of the labour market.

It will focus quality assurance on the final integrated summative assessment specified in the curriculum. In other words, the AQP’s determine if candidates achieved the exit level outcomes required by industry for the qualification to be meaningful and relevant.

This focus determines if learners developed the required occupational competence to be awarded the qualification.

Therefore, the QCTO will concentrate its resources on the quality assurance of the design and assessment of occupational qualifications, research and data analysis to pinpoint emerging problems.

An AQP is an entity appointed by the QCTO and delegated to manage, on behalf of the QCTO, the assessment process in order to achieve the above objective.

AQP Principles and Values

The following principles and values were taken into consideration during the development of the criteria and guidelines for becoming an AQP:

External Assessment systems and processes must:

  • be fair, reliable, valid, ethical and transparent;
  • be consistent across time, place, role players and respond to a non-sectoral demand-led model;
  • use methodologies that are fit-for-purpose and reflect a consistent level of higher cognitive challenge;
  • avoid tendencies of exclusivity;
  • adhere to the QCTO values which show:
    • innovation and excellence
    • empowerment and recognition
    • respect and dignity
    • ethics and integrity
    • ownership and accountability
    • authenticity

What are Qualification Assessment Specifications (QAS)?

The Qualification Assessment Specifications are developed during the qualification development process and it is expected that a minimum of 50% of the working group members should be experts in that particular occupational qualification. Other members could be curriculum experts, content development experts, training providers, career development interest groups or other stakeholders.

The AQP will set the national standards to ensure validity and consistency of the external summative assessment.

The QAS form an integral part of every occupational qualification and are developed for each occupational qualification and outline and record the following information:

  1. Title of occupational qualification;
  2. Curriculum reference number;
  3. Name and details of the AQP;
  4. External assessment strategy;
  5. Key occupational outcomes;
  6. The point(s) at which the qualification must be assessed (allowing for production cycle if required);
  7. Critical identified elements of ‘internal assessment’ to be externally moderated (if any);
  8. Eligibility requirements for candidates for external assessment;
  9. Exemptions;
  10. Minimum requirements for the registration of assessors;
  11. Provide links to the AQP website for information on:
    1. Criteria for accreditation of assessment centres
    2. Exemplars of external assessment instruments
    3. Relevant sections of AQP assessment policy and procedures: those required for public information, including language(s) of assessment and RPL;

Functions of an Assessment Quality Partner (AQP)

The QAP performs the role of summative assessment and moderation of learners, and verification of training programs by:

  1. An Assessment Quality Partner must, in respect of the qualifications and part qualifications specified in the Service Level Agreement;
    • recommend the external assessment specifications document for approval by the QCTO;
    • develop and maintain a national databank of instruments for external assessments;
    • publish exemplars of external assessments;
    • recommend to the QCTO the accreditation and withdrawal of accreditation of skills development providers for the knowledge and/or practical skills component using criteria and guidelines provided by the QCTO;
    • register assessors and moderators for the external assessments;
    • develop criteria for the accreditation of assessment centres or the approval of assessment sites for external assessments;
    • recommend to the QCTO the accreditation and withdrawal of accreditation of assessment centres;
    • and recommend to the QCTO the accreditation and withdrawal of accreditation of skills development providers for the knowledge and/or practical skills component using criteria and guidelines provided by the QCTO.
  2. Coordinate and manage external assessment processes;
  3. Record and upload learner external assessment applications and achievements to the QCTO;
  4. Moderate at least 10% of learner external assessments;
  5. Record and upload learner external assessment applications and achievements to the QCTO;
  6. Moderate at least 10% of learner external assessments;

Criteria for the approval of an Assessment Quality Partner

Proof must be submitted to demonstrate adherence with the criteria listed below.

  1. The QCTO will appoint an entity as an assessment quality partner only if it is satisfied that the entity has:
    • The necessary expertise, experience and standing in relation to the occupational qualifications or foundational learning for which the assessment quality partner is appointed;
    • and the resources necessary to perform its functions
  2. The criteria have been defined by the QCTO in detail as follows:
    • be recommended to the QCTO by the relevant DQP during the occupational development process at a point when they submit an occupational profile.
      • Possible evidence:
        • letter of recommendation from the DQP;
        • Attendance register;
        • DQP progress report with endorsement of the selected body by constituency to ensure trust and acceptance;
        • extracts from minutes of scoping meeting where the decision took place;
    • have access to communities of expert practitioners in the occupation/s concerned;
      • Possible evidence:
        • Attendance registers;
        • reference to extracts from websites with links to CEPs or any other relevant information such as an indication as to where the AQP will source expertise to design assessments;
    • have standing in the occupation or occupations concerned;
      • Possible evidence:
        • cross reference to websites, publications and any other relevant information;
    • have access to assessors and other human resources necessary to perform the AQP functions using criteria and guidelines provided by the QCTO.
      • Possible evidence:
        • Database of assessors
    • have access to a reliable management information system in the format required by the QCTO;
      • Possible evidence:
        • Organogram or reference to an organisation to whom this function has been outsourced;
    • have the financial resources necessary to establish the AQP function and implement effective, efficient and transparent financial management and internal control systems, verified by means of a written commitment by its relevant authority;
      • Possible evidence:
        • evidence that the functions have been catered for in the organisation budget;
        • a letter from the AQP’s relevant authority committing the necessary financial resources to fund the AQP;
    • have a proposed fee structure funding model to maintain the delivery of AQP services for a minimum of five years aligned to the QCTO Fee Structure Policy;
    • be willing to sign the QCTO Code of Conduct (Schedule 4) if delegation is approved;
    • have research capacity even if through a third party arrangement;
      • Possible evidence:
        • cross reference to reports or process of how this criterion will be addressed;
    • and proof that the organisation is a juristic person:
      • Possible evidence:
        • submit a valid tax clearance certificate where appropriate.

Reference: QCTO Assessment Quality Partner (AQP) Criteria and Guidelines (Approved 20 February 2013)

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