ACSF, LLN, FSK, FS, CSfW, FSAT – making sense of the jargon

Foundation Skills under the Spotlight

Why are these acronyms relevant? No doubt you are aware that foundation skills are under the spotlight. As training professionals we are encouraged to raise the foundation skills profile; shifting their presence from implicit and assumed, to explicit and planned to be part of each stage of training delivery.

Each VET course and each VET unit has foundation skills within the Performance Criteria tasks and the Required Skills and Knowledge. Identifying the ACSF (LLN) core skill and the CSfW (Employability Skills) is the first step to bringing these to the forefront of planning, instruction and assessment.

A snapshot of these acronyms: FSK, ACsf, FS, csfw, fsat, and lln
Foundation Skills (FS)
The term Foundation Skills was introduced by the National Quality Council (NQC) and Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Joint Steering Committee (2009) in the Foundation Skills in VET Products for the 21st Century. Foundation Skills are under the spotlight; promoted as being critical for a person to fully participate in the workforce, community, education and training, and critical to the future of the Australian economy. Foundation Skills were initially described in the DEEWR National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults Consultation Paper (2011) as a combination of the ACSF Core Skills (Learning, Reading, Writing, Oral Communication and Numeracy) AND Employability Skill (see list below) and continue to be understood in this way.Foundation SkillsACSF and CSfW

Both the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) and the Core Skills for Work developmental framework (CSfW) are nationally developed frameworks. Each presents stages of development across levels of performance.  Each provides a common language and reference points to discuss or address particular skills. The ACSF presents descriptors that relate to the life-wide participation of adults in community, the workplace, or education/training contexts. The CSfW descriptors relate to  employability skills within the workforce practice, or workforce training: navigating the world of work, interacting with others, and getting the work done.

They are purposefully designed resources to enable professionals to:

  • communicate about aspects of  training content and context using consistent descriptions (the foundation skills involved).
  • identify and describe, the required  foundation skills to successfully participate within the training context (knowing the the foundation skill demand)
  • articulate the foundation skills and knowledge of those participating in the training, their skills, knowledge or understanding, observed or revealed through their responses. (knowing the learners).
  • tailor instruction and assessment approaches to strengthen foundation skills and knowledge (knowing what to do)

It is important to note, foundation skills capacity:

  • is not necessarily fixed or permanent, there is scope for development.
  • in any single descriptor/indicator is usually dependent on capacity of more than one related descriptor/indicator.
  • is dependent on the context, and can vary from one context to another.
  • takes time to develop. A complex matrix of inter-related variables impact on learning and transformation.
LLN

LLN is an acronym for Language Literacy and Numeracy – generally used to represent the core skills embraced in the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF)  – Learning, Reading Writing Oral Communication and Numeracy.

FSAT

Funded by the Department of Industry, the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) is currently being developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The tool will involve identification of an individual’s capacity against both  core skills (ACSF) and  employability skills. Information provided on the link explains how the different skills will be assessed. Currently RTOs have volunteered to be involved with the trials of the tool, then following necessary adjustments it will be available freely for use. The ACER want more RTOs to be involved with the trial stage, so register your interest.

FSK

FSK can represent Foundation Skills, or, is more commonly known to represent the Foundation Skills Training Package (FSK).

The Foundation Skills Training Package (FSK) is a suite of 91 units, each one aligned to an ACSF core skill (Learning, Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, Numeracy), and core skill level level (1 to 5). The Employability Skills are embedded within these 91 units aligned to the relevant ACSF core skills and levels . For example Team Work, Negotiating and Presenting are within the ACSF core skill Oral Communication

It is intended that the Foundation Skills units, or courses (FSK10113 Certificate I in Access to Vocational Pathways , FSK10213 Certificate I in Skills for Vocational Pathways, FSK20113 Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways) are delivered  within a vocational context to support the foundation skill development that may be necessary for people undertaking workplace training.

If you have any questions – contact us. We welcome your interest.

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