Assessment Principles

The Council is responsible in ensuring that successful candidates meet the knowledge, clinical skills, and professional attributes at the required standard for Australian practice.

To guide its assessments, the Council applies the following five principles. Click on any one of the principles to read more.


Assessment should be clear and transparent to all stakeholders.  A transparent assessment process will enable Candidates to understand what is required of them to successfully complete the assessment. The assessment instructions, scoring system/criteria and weighting should be clear to both the Candidates and Assessors.  Candidates should have clear assessment task descriptions to ensure they know what they are expected to do and a clear set of criteria and standards so they understand what it is they are assessed against. In addition the Assessors’ expectations and processes should be transparent, accessible and clear to Candidates.


undefined FAIR and SUPPORTIVE

A fair and supportive assessment allows the assessment process to provide all Candidates with an equal opportunity to demonstrate the extent of their skills and training. Achieving fairness throughout the assessment of Candidates involves considerations of task complexity, timing and bias.

Candidates should be given a fair chance to demonstrate their competencies. To achieve this, the assessment tasks should be varied to cover the entire domain of competencies. The assessment environment should promote fairness - for example, it would not be fair for a Candidate to be expected to complete an assessment without the appropriate preparation materials, orientation or environment being provided. In addition, a fair assessment must take into consideration issues concerning access, equity and diversity. Assessment practices need to be as free as possible from gender, racial, cultural or other potential bias and provisions need to be made for Candidates with disabilities and/or special needs.


undefined VALID and RELIABLE

Assessments need to be valid and reliable if the decisions based on the results are to be trusted and defensible. The decisions made on the basis of the results of the assessment program should be accurate and constant over situations and Assessors. Decisions should not depend on the Assessor or the specific assessment situation.

Validity refers to the extent to which the content of assessment material measures what it claims to measure. Validity can refer to the validity of assessment content, the process and/or the assessment instrument that is used to measure competency in the content. Validity is not a characteristic of an assessment instrument on its own; nor is it a characteristic of the scores derived from the assessment. Rather it is fundamentally about decisions made from the interpretation of scores derived from the assessment methods used. It is a function of what is being measured (the construct), how it is being measured (the context and instrument) and the use of those data to make decisions.

For assessment content and instruments to be valid there must be a genuine relationship between the assessment task and the level of skill required to complete the task. In this instance a valid assessment task will measure a Candidate’s ability to perform as an entry-level physiotherapist. The ability to complete an assessment task successfully should therefore require the Candidate to use skills and training that is equivalent to that of an entry-level physiotherapist.

Reliability of an assessment refers to its reproducibility. The decisions made on the basis of the results of the assessment program should be accurate and constant over situations and Assessors. Decisions should not depend on the Assessor or the specific assessment situation. When an assessment provides an accurate and precise measurement of a Candidate’s performance, it will yield the same, consistent result regardless of when the assessment occurs or who does the marking.

Assessment programs should be conducted in a consistent and responsible way. One area which poses particular challenges for assessment reliability and consistency is when the same assessment is delivered and assessed across multiple venues. The Council applies moderation processes including Assessor calibration to ensure that marking is consistent and comparable across all venues and Assessors.


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An authentic assessment will contain tasks that are relevant and reflective of what occurs in ordinary physiotherapy practice. The tasks used in the assessment program should reflect the type of tasks that will be encountered in the workplace and should be as realistic as possible. It should include all knowledge skills and attitudes the competence comprises.

Authentic assessments tasks will more accurately measure the competency of Candidates to perform as entry-level physiotherapists outside the assessment environment. Assessment tasks do not need to be carried out in an external work setting to be authentic. Simulations that 'mimic' key elements of authentic contexts can help to create an authentic experience.



The type of assessment used must be suitable for "what" is being assessed. There are a range of assessment types and there should be consideration to the suitability of the chosen assessment type to the assessment context and aims. For example, certain competencies are more appropriately assessed in a practical assessment rather than using a multiple choice written assessment tool if that competency requires contextual understanding. The assessment process should drive the appropriate learning and have a positive influence on learning. All unintended negative consequences that may hinder learning should be minimized.

An appropriate assessment will also reflect the thinking processes used by practitioners in the field. Assessment tasks should reflect higher order skills and engage the strategies and processes that are part of the construct (professional competence) being assessed in an appropriate way.


© Copyright Australian Physiotherapy Council Limited 2015