Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) : 1st of its kind for Australia

This is the one we’ve been waiting for… a high-quality, FREE assessment tool that RTOs can use to test learners in ALL foundation skills – i.e. LLN and employability skills!

The Department of Education has finally released FSAT, which the team at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has been working on for the past 2+ years.  This is the foundation skills assessment tool we’ve been waiting for!

In this post we’ll:

  • explain what the FSAT is
  • describe 7 benefits of using FSAT
  • explain exactly which core skills are assessed with FSAT, and how
  • tell you how you can help get FSAT approved for use with VET FEE Help students, asap
  • help you get started!

What is the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT)?

The Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) is an interactive online tool designed to identify and measure an individual’s foundation skill levels. This includes English language, literacy and numeracy skills as well as employability skills.

It uses the theoretical underpinnings of the Australian Core Skills Framework (language, literacy and numeracy) and the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (employability skills).

Source: (DET FSAT Frequently asked Questions)

7 reasons to use FSAT

1 Developed by ACSF and CSfW experts All of the tasks and questions used in FSAT have been developed jointly by teams of external ACSF and CSFW experts, including authors of the two frameworks, working alongside ACER assessment experts.
2 ACSF and CSfW assessed Language Literacy and Numeracy AND Employability skills
3 Assess 5 levels ACSF 5 skill levels AND CSfW 5 skill levels
4 Computer adaptive assessment Comprehensive branching structure to target the appropriate level of question difficulty

For details about the skills assessed on and off-line – see What skills are assessed and how?

5 See the results immediately Automatic and immediate scoring and report generation available for all online assessed core skills
6 Resources for the skills assessed offline Offline components come with manuals, prompts and marking guides
7 IT’S FREE That’s right, NO service fee!

What skills are assessed, and how?

Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) core skills assessed

Automatically scored skills ACSF Non-automatically scored assessments ACSF
  • Learning (Indicator 2)
  • Reading
  • Receptive listening
  • Numeracy
  • Learning (Indicator 1)
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Interactive listening

Core Skills for Work (CSfW) core skills assessed

Please NOTE: Nine out of ten CSfW core skills are assessed automatically. During the testing stage it was found that Skill Area 3d Create and Innovate did not adapt well to automatic assessment so needs to be assessed off line.

Skill Cluster

Skill Area

Navigate the world of work 1a Manage career and work life

1b Work with roles rights and protocols

Interact with others 2a Communicate for work

2b Connect and work with others

2c Recognise and utilise diverse perspectives

Get the work done 3a Plan and organise

3b Make decisions

3c Identify and Solve Problems

3d Create and Innovate (See NOTE above)

3e Work in a digital world

Use FSAT to assess prospective, or existing learners across all adult education and vocational training, courses and levels.  FSAT results can help you:

  • provide targeted feedback to each prospective learner about the range of skills they hold (i.e. their strengths) and skills to develop
  • guide and develop solutions, strategies, resources or advice so that prospective learners know what to do, and where to access the support
  • prepare candidates for a VET FEE Help approved assessment.

How to get started using FSAT

  1. First, you will need to register your organisation with an FSAT account.  For more information about registering, click here.
  2. Once you have your account up and running, you may give your clients access to FSAT.

More information

ACSF CSfW
FSAT – general information FSAT – Frequently asked questions

See, also, other parts of our site:

  • access the information on our Foundation Skills page
  • or contact us via LLNandVETmeetingplace@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACER 2015 NALLNAC Conference: ‘take-aways’ and reflections

 

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Ann and Chemène (we) attended and co-presented at ACER‘s National Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Conference (NALLNAC) held in Adelaide on 14 and 15 May 2015.

We got a lot from the conference and wanted to share our reflections and insights in this post.

Summary

This was not the first year we have attended NALLNAC, and this year we were pleased to see even more workshops dedicated to helping VET practitioners assess LLN skills and build foundation skill development into vocational training:

  • Chemène relished the chance to hear from foundation skill ‘gurus’ such as Philippa MacLean (writer of the ACSF), Dave Tout (Numeracy Guru and NALLNAC organiser), and Ros Bauer (Australian Training Awards Winner – Excellence in Adult Language Literacy Numeracy Practice Award), just to name three.
  • Ann re-united with long-standing LLN colleagues and networked with VET practitioners to learn more about the challenges and opportunities presented when incorporating foundation skills into VET.

This conference truly offered a meeting place between LLN and VET practitioners.  Thank you to the 2015 ACER National Adult Language Literacy and Numeracy Conference team for this opportunity.

Our workshop

Our workshop was called,

Within VET Training, where are the opportunities to EMBED (Explore Moments to Bring Explicit LLN Development into VET)?

As luck would have it, ACER scheduled our workshop for the last time slot on the last day of the conference.  So, we were prepared to deliver to a small, tired group.  Instead, we were delighted by a large group of motivated and energetic LLN and VET professionals who were prepared to share experiences and ideas.

It’s hard for VET practitioners to get started or make progress building learners’ foundation skills within VET–trainers know their training content, and prepare to deliver it effectively. So how can building foundation skills fit within the time available?

Our workshop aimed to help VET practitioners do just that:  to identify ways to monitor, support and build Foundation Skills within vocational training sessions.

We used a case study as the basis for group discussions.  We gave participants:

  • an example of a vocational session plan (a real example, donated by a skilled and very nice trainer we know).
  • a profile of a typical learner group for this session.

Participants worked in small groups to identify ways to adapt training delivery so that in addition to covering vocational content, the session delivery could also:

  • Support learners
  • Upskill learners and help them build foundation skills
  • Monitor foundation skill development.

Although the suggestions focus on foundation skill development, the vocation or workplace content remained at the forefront.

So what ideas did participants come up with?  See for yourself!

We collated the ideas participants came up with in a post-conference takeaway pdf resource.  We also added a few ideas of our own.  Participant ideas were so good that we thought we’d make it available to anyone wanting to get ideas for how to build foundation skills within vocational education sessions.  We hope you find it useful and welcome your feedback.

DOWNLOAD RESOURCE HERE

ACER 2015 NALLNAC Conference Reflections

NALLNAC left us reminded of, exposed to, and encouraged by the array of authors, papers, reports and workshops with impacting messages about LLN development in Australia.

The following comments and links are also relevant to the current national foundation skills agenda, each with a focus on the trainer/teacher. The authors either remind us that how and what we do are critical to learner outcomes, or suggest there are stages and phases progressed as we integrate LLN into VET training.

1    We were reminded of:

For example, The US Gordon Commission’s paper, To Assess, To Teach, To Learn: A Vision for the Future of Assessment, reminded us that where Foundation Skills are concerned, critical to progress is assessing the needs and capacity first, then implementing a continuous loop of teaching, reflecting, feedback and assessing. The key take-away teaching model Assess, Teach, Learn fits harmoniously with building learner foundation skills where knowing current learner capacity is the starting point.

2    We were exposed to:

For example, the Les Retford Integrating LLN into VET Practice research findings  expose perspectives of  VET practitioners as they transition towards embracing foundation skills within VET teaching. The spiral metaphor (image) suggests that trainers progress through five stages: commencing with awareness and progressing towards influencing practice. If you support VET trainers , be mindful that the journey is a challenge and consider the support available.

3    We are encouraged by:

Revisiting two ‘gems’. For exmple,  John Hattie’s Visible Learning ranked teaching and learning approaches that affect learning. Hattie’s emphasise on the teacher as the change agent, and teaching from the perspective of the learner can’t be overlooked.

Also, Dr. Jackie Gerstein’s Growth Mindset has become a popular model for educators and reminds us that if we have the Growth Mindset we will be prepared to continuously adapt and grow as educators, and therefore achieve better results.

Teaching is a work in progress.

 

 

 

Are you going round in circles about how to identify your new learner’s LLN/FSK existing skills? Consider these options.

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It’s the start of a new training year for many registered training organisations (RTOs), with the literacy needs of new and continuing learners to consider. Learner progress and success involves building from, or strengthening existing core skills. Identifying which core skills learners need to develop is an important step in the pre-training or ‘at-the-start’ of training phase, and informs the preparation and planning to promote explicit teaching of the necessary core skills. The new Standards for Registered Training Organisations RTOs (2015) – Standard Clause 1.2 presents this aspect.

If you have completed the unit TAELLN401/411 then you will be aware that the national benchmarking tool for identifying existing literacy skills is the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

Developing your own resources that are aligned to the ACSF can be more complicated than it seems, and potentially time-consuming. There are two nationally validated ACSF-based strategies/resources to currently available and worth considering.

1 Use the Australian Core Skills Framework assessment tools located at Precision Consultancy, which was funded by government to develop and prepare freely available ACSF validated tasks/tools across a range of specific and generic workplace contexts.

The particular workplace context or vocational area you are involved with may not be represented in these tasks/tools however, there are a selection of tasks/tools that embrace the core skills needed for your particular vocational training area, or that is deemed important for your learners to know to perform effectively in the workplace.  For example, if writing is a core workplace skill, then you can utilise the ACSF tasks/tools at the core skill level which matches your qualification requirements.

These tasks/tools are:

  • Aligned to the ACSF – have undergone extensive validation
  • Include some generic content
  • Cover the 5 ACSF core skills
  • Cover ACSF levels 1-4.

The Tasks/Tools Advantages:

  • Assessor advice/guidelines are included
  • Tasks/tools are ready to print off and use
  • They provide examples of performance/capability at the different ACSF levels
  • Some tasks/tools integrate more than one core skill
  • Best undertaken in a face to face context, but can be distributed electronically

The Tasks/Tools Disadvantages:

  • Some interpretation of learner performance is required with the writing/oral communication/learning core skills responses
  • May need to implement a separate approach to draw out learning and oral communication capacity

2 Participate in the trials of the ACER Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) .

“The Department of Industry has contracted the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to develop an online Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) to identify and assess an individual’s foundation skill levels. The tool will be available free to assist learners, job seekers, trainers, educators and employment services practitioners to assess their own or a client’s foundation skill levels, and help identify any gaps in skills and knowledge.” (FSAT  Overview http://www.acer.edu.au/fsat, 20/01/15)

The online FSAT tool combines the assessment of core skills against the ACSF and the Core Skills for Work (CSfW). The link ACER FSAT leads to a comprehensive explanation of the assessment intent and approaches to the different core skills.

The ACER FSAT needs your help. More RTO’s are encouraged to consider being involved in the tool trials, enabling some of the their students to participate in the trials. The trials are important  for achieving outcome/result/analyses reliability, which will ultimately impact on the tool’s use and value. Participation can also provide an opportunity to contribute feedback to the tool development through the observations/experiences of your learners, as well as increase your knowledge of this tool.

The FSAT Advantages

  • No cost involved
  • Available on-line (when released)
  • Combines both the ACSF and the CSfW
  • No preparation involved

The FSAT Disadvantages
It’s not yet available  – the trial phase is important for finalising  the end product. So become involved to enable the final product to be realised.

The Precision Consultancy ACSF tools, and the opportunity to trial the ACER FSAT on-line assessment, offer two readily available resources for teachers to identify the existing skills core skills (ACSF or ACSF and CSfW) of the learners you will be teaching, and may suit your circumstances at this, often hectic, time of the year. Take a look at these resources via the links and consider how they could be used in your context.

Please contact us at llnandvetmeetingplace@gmail.com:

  • If you would like more information or support interpreting these documents, and/or
  • You would like to discuss strategies for identifying your learners’ LLN/FSK core skill capacity using different approaches