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A New Paradigm in Assessment: Competency Based Halden A. Morris, PhD., P.E.,Senior Lecturer, TVET School of Education, UWI. Marjorie Blagrove-Williams, MSc , Education Programme Coordinator, VTDI. QUESTIONS . What Where How.

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A New Paradigm in Assessment:

Competency Based

Halden A. Morris, PhD., P.E.,Senior Lecturer, TVET

School of Education, UWI.

Marjorie Blagrove-Williams, MSc , Education

ProgrammeCoordinator, VTDI


What Where How

  • What is this new paradigm in assessment?
  • What is Competency Based assessment (CBA)?
  • What are the assumptions of CBA?
  • What are the origins of CBA?
  • What are the components of CBA?
  • How are standards for CBA established?
  • What is the CBA methodology?
  • How are evidences for CBA collected?
  • What are the fundamental challenges of CBA?
  • What facilities required for implementing CBA?
  • Where CBA is best employed?
connection with your current thinking practice
Connection with your current thinking / practice.


Determine what?

  • Assessment of learning.
  • Assessment for learning.
  • Realibility of Assessment.
  • What challenges your thinking?
  • Identify one useful, new concept or idea .
  • Is assessment aligned to learning?
  • Assessment as learning.
  • Extends your thinking.
  • Concept of CBA.
  • What of accountability?
  • Validity of Assessment.
what is competency based assessment cba
What is Competency Based Assessment (CBA)

An educational system which revolves around what is essential for all students to “be able to do, or be like” at the end of their learning experiences, as a result of their education.

Competency based assessment is producing evidence to make a judgment [decision] about whether the person is competent in relation to a particular standard

what is competency based assessment cba1
What is Competency Based Assessment (CBA)
  • Hayton & Wagner(2008) sees CBA as ‘the assessment of evidence to determine a person’s current abilities against a given set of competency standards’
  • Competency-based assessment is a system in which a number of assessment techniques can be used to determine the person’s abilities
origins of competency based assessment cba
Origins of Competency Based Assessment (CBA)
  • The theoretical roots of CBA lie in the behaviourist’ models of human psychology from the 1950s (Skinner is the main proponent).
  • The model of competence used most extensively in education was developed by the American defence forces in the 1950s.
five related developments that fed into the design of cbet
Five Related Developments that fed into the Design of CBET

Mastery learning (Bloom 1974)

Criterion-referenced testing (Popham 1978)

Minimum competency testing (Jaegar 1980)

Competence in education (Burke et al. 1975)

Programmed learning (Skinner 1952).

these movements shared three things in common
These movements shared three things in common:

design of assessment around a list of observable behaviours


the concept of ‘mastery’. (Harris et al. 1995

philosophy of cba
Philosophy of CBA

Assessment is against industry standard, or a set of criteria to establish competency.

Criterion referenced

A process that matches evidence of competency against a standard.

Evidence based

Candidates are involved in the process of assessment


where is cba best employed
Where is CBA best employed?
  • CBA can be employed in all practical areas.
  • Specifically, CBA is best employed where there is a need to assess performance demonstrated against established standards for a particular area.

Emphasis of Competency

Based Assessment


Equipping students



Industry industry

Making inferences about competency on the basis of performance (McGaw, 1993

Continuous development of outcomes that match current industry needs in the workplace.

Emphasis is on determining if students are equipped to meet the demands of the workplace.

Valid, reliable, fair and flexible assessment process

misconceptions of cba
Misconceptions of CBA

CBA is the same as Performance Based Assessment (PBA)

Performance in soft skills is not critical in CBA

Employers could conduct valid and reliable assessment without assessment of competencies

Training records are assessments

CBA can be a single event


CBA places the emphasis on developing detailed national criteria that are based on industry needs

CBA quality assurance emphasizes auditing human and material resources in ways that lead to continuous internal quality improvement.

Attempts to develop descriptions of practice involve practitioners and this involvement is active and collective.



A standard of competence or benchmark of performance


Established methods for the collection of evidence of competence

Evidence collection

Framework for the comparison of evidence against standards to establish performance level

Framework for comparison

Assurance of quality of process

Quality assurance

components of cba

Emphasis is on outcomes; specifically, multiple outcomes, each distinctive and separately considered


The belief that these outcomes can and should be specified to the point where they are clear and "transparent". Assessor, assessee, and "third parties" should be able to understand what is being assessed and what should be achieved.

establishing standards
Establishing Standards

Evidence must comply with the assessment guidelines and other requirement stated in the relevant nationally training package

Underpinning knowledge, skills and attitudes. (Competency is achieved when a student can demonstrate these)

The evaluation of sufficient evidence to enable judgments to be made regarding competence.

judgment based on
Judgment based on:




  • Industry acceptance
  • Teachers’ compliance with the standards.
  • Conditions of performance/
  • facilities/
  • experience of teacher/ assessor
  • Variety
  • Flexibility
  • Observable
what does it mean to be competent
What does it mean to be Competent






  • Perform
  • at an
  • acceptable Skill Level

Respond and React to the unexpected


one’s tasks

Fulfillthe Role expected in the Workplace

Transfer Skills and Knowledge to new Situations

cba methodology
CBA Methodology

How do I do it?

Who should be involved?

When Should it be done?

Where should it be done?

cba methodology1
CBA Methodology





Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

On the job assessment

Off the job assessment


cba methodology on the job workplace assessment
CBA Methodology: On the job/ Workplace assessment

The assessor assesses the practical component at the workplace and the underpinning knowledge and skills component off-the-job.

off the job assessment
Off the job assessment

Actively involves the workplace in the assessment process

Assessment is conducted off-the-job after which verification of on-the-job workplace performance is sought from the workplace supervisor.


Makes assessment activity meaningful to students by relating it workplace activities, procedures and requirements.

Provision of a fully simulated assessment in an off-the-job setting that effectively mirrors the workplace requirements.

recognition of prior learning rpl
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Assessment through Recognition of Prior Learning offered where the apprentice/trainee presents evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills development.

cba methodology instruments
CBA Methodology - Instruments
  • Observation
  • Demonstration
  • Project
  • Role play
  • Oral presentation
  • Portfolio
  • Written questions
  • Case studies
fundamental challenges of cba
Fundamental Challenges of CBA
  • Deciding on approaches to assessment for CBA
  • Gaining teacher confidence in using CBA
  • No shared understanding about CBA
  • Concept of competency is not well defined
fundamental challenges of cba1
Fundamental Challenges of CBA
  • Details required CBA for TVET is too cumbersome.
  • Difficulty in designing assessment instruments that measure the criteria for not one but a number of competencies.
  • Accessing suitable training for assessors.
fundamental challenges of cba2
Fundamental Challenges of CBA

Difficult and impracticable to decide a level of achievement as well as decide competencies.

Flexibility that schools can apply to developing approaches to assessment.

fundamental challenges of cba3
Fundamental Challenges of CBA

The sequence of learning and assessment, can minimize, rather than maximize, the amount of assessment required.

Inability to provide a variety of support materials, including print, audiovisual and simulations (models), keyed to the skills being mastered is used.

fundamental challenges of cba4
Fundamental Challenges of CBA
  • Providing appropriate (fit for purpose) facilities & equipment for carrying out CBA.
  • Providing facilities that is aligned with requirements of industry and commerce.
  • What is Competency Based Assessment (CBA)?
  • Origins of CBA
  • Philosophy of CBA
  • Where is CBA best employed
  • Emphasis of CBA
  • Misconceptions of CBA
  • Assumptions of CBA
  • Components of CBA
  • Establishing Standards for CBA
  • CBA Methodology & Instruments
  • Fundamental Challenges of CBA

Information retrieved from the following cites: