The Schools ITQ

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The Schools ITQ assessment model


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1. The benefits of TLM's Schools ITQ - 10 key facts

  1. Provides nationally accredited qualifications independent of learner age
  2. League table points as well as NC levels from Key stage 1 up
  3. Addresses weaknesses in assessment identified by OFSTED in its March 2009 Report
  4. Fully covers the APP requirements supporting assessment for learning
  5. Supports enterprise and PLTS with certification to recognise learning in these themes
  6. Supports practical capability in the use of e-portfolios and VLPs
  7. Can radically reduce assessment costs and supports integrated CPD
  8. Provides support for foundation tier learning and inclusion of special needs
  9. Supports the personalised learning agenda with certification on demand
  10. Reduces the liklihood of certification fraud

2. Summary of aims

To ensure that there is a balanced approach to learning that reflects contemporary society by
  • Motivating learners through formal recognition of their achievements.
  • Bridging the academic/vocational divide.
  • Providing practical support for inclusion.
  • Improving support and rewards for progress irrespective of age.
  • Improving the balance in emphasis on skills, knowledge and process.
  • Reducing the cost of accredited qualifications.
  • Integrating staff development in the assessment process for schools.
  • Providing transparency for qualifications through reference to the European Qualifications Framework.
  • Ensuring the qualifications are competence based drawing on practical and realistic contexts from the work place now and of the future.

3. Basis for the qualifications

3.1 These qualifications are based on of the UK National Occupational Standards (NOS) for IT Users devised by e-skills, the UK Sector Skills Council for business and IT.  ITQ units are translations of the NOS into learning objectives and assessment criteria in the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) referenced to the European Qualifications Framework EQF. (Click the video to the left to learn more)  TLM's specific implementation provides guidance for its accredited assessors so that the qualifications can be delivered in contexts that fulfil the statutory curriculum for schools as well as for those in work or seeking work. The qualifications are designed to provide learning that can progress based on individual needs irrespective of age or current levels of attainment in a wide range of contexts.  There are opportunities to reward the weakest and stretch the brightest. There is scope for differentiation by outcome since the contexts for individual units at different levels can be the same with the autonomy of the candidate and the degree of self-sufficiency determining the level in accordance with QCF and ITQ definitions.

3.2 The qualifications support learners in making the transition to Open Systems and internet based technologies to reflect the increasing importance of interoperability in globalised industries and for consumers. Enterprise is encouraged through project work and emphasis on learning to work collaboratively to produce information resources and/or services that will be useful to other people.
3.3 The structure of the units enables a simple step into formal qualifications for those with little or no experience. This includes young children, the elderly, those in countries with limited access to education and those with moderate learning difficulties thus promoting inclusion, the personalised learning agenda and life-long learning. There are appropriate progression pathways for applied learning through participation irrespective of age, gender or disability. There is flexibility to choose different combinations of units to achieve qualifications of different breadth at a particular level. We ensure that learners can make informed choices about which technologies they use both at home and at work. Participation is not limited by the economic cost of buying software or digital content licenses. Preparing learners for technological change with most information becoming freely available from the internet, is key to 21st Century learning.

4. The assessment requirements

4.1 The fundamental requirement is for the learner to demonstrate capability against specified assessment criteria that have been designed as indicators of learning outcomes grouped into units.

4.2 Example Unit - Improving Productivity using IT

Plan the use of IT to meet requirements

Use IT systems to complete planned tasks

1.1 I can identify the advantages of using IT for the task 2.1 I can use an IT system to complete planned tasks following identified safe practices
1.2 I can plan how to complete the task using appropriate IT systems and software 2.2 I can check that the outcome meets requirements
1.3 I can identify any safety and security issues affecting the use of IT for the task 2.3 I can identify ways to improve the use of IT for the task
Unit title : Improving productivity using IT (IPU)
Learning Objectives : Plan the use of IT to meet requirements : Use IT systems to complete planned tasks
Assessment criteria : 1.1 - 2.3
4.3 They do this by working with an authorised assessor to gather the appropriate evidence that the assessment criteria have been met. The assessor must demonstrate to TLM that they have the knowledge and experience to make sound professional judgements at the levels at which they are authorised to assess. Assessment judgements are externally checked by TLM's Account Managers through dialogue with the assessors and requests for evidence.
4.4 Ingot assessment is designed to be formative (AfL) and personalised for both assessors and learners. If the Account Manager disagrees with the Assessor, they will explain why and require the Assessor to produce further or different evidence to justify the award based on the assessment criteria and the detailed guidance in this handbook. In the rare event that an Award has been made and there comes to light reasons why it should not have been, the Award will be suspended in the database so that it will not authenticate until the evidence of meeting the criteria has been provided.

5. Are the INGOTs a course?

5.1 INGOT qualifications are NOT courses, they are a method of accrediting learning outcomes.  Professional teachers can provide courses leading to INGOT accreditation with the flexibility to support their own teaching styles and individual learner needs. (Personalised learning) While there are examples and supporting materials available from the web site there is no intention to tell teachers how to teach. As long as the assessment criteria can be met, subject to the guidance provided in this documentation, that is the sole requirement. In the example above, any course supporting planning, execution and evaluation of an IT task could be used effectively as a focus for assessment. This could be part of an existing course. There should be no need to make extensive changes to existing valid and well planned programmes of study, we are simply providing an assessment for learning model that can be applied with low bureaucratic overhead and support for recording and certification. Broadly, the Silver and Gold INGOTs are about making information available on the internet through collaborative work and supporting this process with a range of tools in typical working contexts. Any course or courses that provide opportunities to do this are  suitable for supporting INGOT accreditation.

6. Common features of unit assessment

  1. Assessment criteria are provided for each unit. The assessor must make a judgement about the learner's performance against each of the criteria statements using evidence directly from the learner's work set in realistic contexts. 
  2. All the assessment criteria start out as "N" meaning no assessment evidence. 
  3. The assessor judgement is recorded as "L", "S" or "H" against the assessment criteria when there is evidence provided by the learner. 
  4. When the learner has made some progress towards a particular criterion based on the evidence but there is insufficient evidence of full and secure competence, the assessor records "L" meaning lower than. 
  5. When there is sufficient evidence that the learner can securely meet the requirements of the particular statement, the assessor records "S" meaning "Secure" in these requirements. 
  6. If there is clear evidence that the learner is performing above and beyond the stated level, the assessor records "H" meaning "Higher"
  7. When all the criteria in a given unit are at "S" or "H", the learner has successfully passed the unit. 
6.1 The use of L,S,H is a simple means for monitoring progress and informing future planning. It should be explained to and understood by the learner to enable them to take part in the assessment for learning process. If they are willing, sharing with peers can also be a powerful means of motivating learning. The exact methods are not mandatory, the only mandatory requirement is that there is clear evidence that the learner has met the criteria.

7. Gathering evidence

7.1 The evidence of the learner achieving a unit can be provided in many ways. Most often for the Silver and Gold qualifications it will be through an e-portfolio of web pages referenced to the assessment criteria and files of digital information. The learner can take responsibility for gathering the evidence required and present it to the assessor and we provide free hosted tools to support this on the INGOT learner site. The learner can document their evidence referencing the assessment criteria and thus take progressively more responsibility for setting their own learning goals, improving their skills in self-evaluation. This process can itself provide evidence of meeting some of the assessment criteria. In some cases assessors will set controlled tests and tasks to check that learners can meet the criteria and the outcomes of these can be provided as evidence.
7.2 The assessor signs an agreement with TLM to uphold standards and there is detailed assessor guidance for each of the criteria in the handbook and in web pages, including general level descriptions for QCF and Entry Level qualifications. When the learner and assessor agree that the learner is at least secure across all the assessment criteria the assessor will request the award of the unit from TLM. The Account Manager at TLM will check the evidence gathered by the learner and assessor, normally web pages in an e-portfolio or Blog entries, and provide appropriate feedback. If the Account Manager is satisfied that the criteria have been securely met they will authorise the assessor to print the unit certificate directly from the TLM web site where the certificate can also be authenticated.
7.3 It is important that the demands of assessment procedures are not greater than the demands of the required learning and so the assessor at Bronze (Entry Level) has to be confident to directly match criteria to the candidates' practical skills using the criteria guidance. Evidence can be from schemes of work and lesson plans, photographic evidence, individual learner's files of aspects of their work and day to day recording of activities. Specification of assessment activities should be validated by TLM and carried out under supervision by the assessor. This process is light touch and through dialogue between the assessor and their Account Manager at TLM. It will not have a great bureaucratic overhead reflecting the level and purpose of the qualifications.
7.4 TLM does not rigidly specify how evidence should be gathered as different evidence will suit different circumstances and the range of preferred teaching and learning styles. We want assessment to inform rather than dictate learning methods. However, we do need evidence and so assessors must be able to justify the judgments they have made against the criteria by providing evidence to their Account Manager using specific assessment tasks (ideally transparently integrated into normal work). Gold (Level 2) qualifications need the most thorough treatment as they are more likely to be used for entry to employment or places on more advanced courses. 
7.5 We strongly recommend teaching learners how to record evidence from their work against the assessment criteria at an early stage. This is an important skill to learn for higher order learning and needs to be supported as early as possible. Over time, as assessors and learners become more experienced, assessment will become an integral part of the learning process without being excessively bureaucratic. Apart from saving time for the assessors we are enabling learners to provide evidence of their skills and knowledge direct to interested parties from their web pages and links. Feedback from Account Managers to Assessors means we have a manageable form of continuing professional development that is embedded in practice.

8. Unit assessment

8.1 Organisation of assessment criteria into units is an administrative convenience. It does not mean that units have to be assessed discretely and/or in isolation. A project or lesson can provide evidence for more than one unit. It is simply a matter of providing convincing assessment evidence of the learning outcomes using the assessment criteria. Candidates' capability is confirmed through referencing work to the unit criteria. Exactly how that is done in terms of organisation of schemes of work or individual lesson plans in relations to units and their component criteria is flexible. From the awarding point of view, we are interested only in the outcome. Can the candidate securely demonstrate competence against the criteria? Adding units can increase breadth of study and we provide several different size qualification at each level to reflect this. a bigger qualification can be achieved by adding units to a smaller qualification again maximising the flexibility in the progression routes.

9. Summary of the assessment process

9.1 The diagram below  shows a summary of the process for the award of a unit. In multi-unit awards, there are rules governing how the units contribute to the overall qualifications. These rules are explained in the detailed guidance below and are built into the on-line mark book. In general there are mandatory units at the level of the qualification and optional units that can be at the qualification level or the level above or below the level of the qualification. This provides more flexibility in supporting progression.


10. The European Qualifications Framework (EQF)

10.1 The EQF is a metaframework. It is designed for cross-referencing national frameworks across the EU. The INGOTs are based on the UK Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) which is one of the first national frameworks referenced to the EQF as follows:

  • Entry 1 and 2 in the QCF have no EQF reference level
  • Entry 3 in the QCF is referenced to EQF Level 1
  • Level 1 in the QCF is referenced to EQF Level 2
  • Level 2 in the QCF is referenced to EQF Level 3
  • Level 3 in the QCF is referenced to EQF Level 4

10.2 In this document unless otherwise stated, references to Levels mean UK QCF levels. These are referenced in some places to other qualifications levels such as those employed in the UK National Curriculum. It is unfortunate that there are several different levelled systems but we have to work with these so that there is clear understanding of the value of any particular qualification in different contexts.

11. English National Curriculum

  • QCF Entry level 1 is broadly equivalent to Level 1 in the English National Curriculum
  • QCF Entry Level 2 is broadly equivalent to Level 2 in the English National Curriculum
  • QCF Entry Level 3 is broadly equivalent to Level 3 in the English National Curriculum
  • QCF Level 1 is broadly equivalent to Levels 4-5 in the English National Curriculum
  • QCF Level 2 is broadly equivalent to Levels 6-10 in the English National Curriculum and Grade B at GCSE

11.1 There are links from the INGOT QCF based assessment criteria to the English National Curriculum assessment criteria and programmes of study. The intention is that the certification programme should fit to learner work in any National Curriculum with minimal modification to existing schemes of work and lesson planning at least in the first instance. From this point, changes to learning and teaching styles can be made in a manageable way without requiring a complete disruption of existing systems. There is no reason not to use learning resources that support other legacy qualifications or general programmes of study at least initially. The main skill requirement is to use internet and associated technologies to present work and to work collaboratively. These skills are required by all school children in England in order to prepare e-portfolios and by implication across the European Union where e-portfolios for all is part of the Lifelong Learning policy.

12. Points values

12.1 In addition to the credit values and levels governments in some countries, eg England assign points to qualifications for accountability measures. The value of points can be changed by the government with no notice so it is best to refere to the specific government polity at Raise Online.

13. The National Database of Accredited Qualifications

13.1 The NDAQ lists all accredited qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Type TLM in the search box of the home page to list TLM qualifications and all the relevant accreditation details. QCF qualifications fall into three categories. Awards, Certificates and Diplomas. For each type of qualification there are three main levels. Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Below the three levels, Entry level qualifications are provided to support access to the level 1 qualifications by those currently not at a high enough level of education. Below Entry level are P Scales used extensively in Special Schools. Progression from P scales through Entry Level to Level 1 supports inclusion. The qualifications are designed to support progression pathways personalised to the learner, including learners with special educational needs and educational disadvantage so that they can access mainstream qualifications. They are not specific to age and what matters is: Can the individual meet the standards?, not how old are they or any other personal attributes. It is therefore perfectly reasonable for primary aged children to take up the entry level qualifications and these automatically reference to UK National Curriculum levels as well as under-pinning the National Occupational Standards. Furthermore, the assessment methods are designed to be compatible with the Assessment of Pupil Progress system being developed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority with criteria matched as Low, Secure or High.

The size of the qualification at any level is detrmined by its credit value. 1 credit is 10 hours of learning so a 16 credit qualification would be 160 hours of learning for an average learner starting at that level. Prior learning could mean that this time is significantly reduced and it includes self-study as well as formal teaching. It is therefore feasibly for a higher attainer to achieve the level 2 ITQ during Key Stage 3 and for most learners to achieve the level 1.

14. Credit Transfer

14.1 The ITQ is part of the Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF) which is mapped to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). Units in the QCF have a credit value and this value determines how much content there is in the syllabus of the unit at a particular level. The idea of the EQF is that units and qualifications can be quantified so as to give transferrable credit to learners in any EU member state. Since each country already has its own methods of valuing qualifications, the EQF is a metaframework against which compatible national qualifications are referenced.  This enables a wide variety of national qualifications systems to be brought together so that employers have a better understanding of the value of the qualifications that are being brought to their businesses without compromising cultural and national distinctiveness.  The table linked here provides the way credit in the QCF relates to UK schools National Curriculum Levels, GCSE and school threshold points. The Schools ITQ is designed to be international providing a bridge between vocational applied learning and the knowledge and understanding required to cope with management of change more normally associated with academic learning.

The Schools ITQ unit details

This link provides the detail of the units in the qualifications as determined by the QCF together with rules of combination.