18th Jun 2012 at 5:59 am #6612
It is important that all the assessment activities, including the design and development of assessment instruments, conducting assessment, managing assessment and doing the administration that goes with assessment is done professionally. The reason for this is quite obvious – we need to ensure that learners are given a fair chance to achieve success and that the employers receive the benefits of employees being able to work more effectively and efficiently after they have been trained. It is the responsibility of the verifier to ensure that learners are subjected to valid, consistent and reliable assessment and moderation.
Verification can be done off-site or on-site. Off-site verification normally takes place at the offices of the verifier and can range from simple confirmation of the authenticity of information given by the provider in the early stages of learning information to assessor information and the submitting of learner achievement for verification.
On-site verification takes place at the site of the learning provider. This can either be done by verifiers employed by the quality assuring body or by contracted verifiers who will be deployed, according to their areas of expertise, to carry out verification of assessment of learner achievements. On-site verification may follow different patterns, in which some of the following methods may be used:
- Sampling moderated assessments.
- Attending a selection of actual performance or practical assessments to observe the assessment process.
- Checking that the evidence supplied is appropriate to the standards being assessed.
- Checking that the assessor, as moderated by the (internal) moderator, has followed the assessment process (the verifier is sometimes also called the “external moderator”).
- Ensuring that the learner has been properly informed of their rights and responsibilities.
- Checking that the judgement regarding the outcome of assessment is valid.
- Checking that assessments are moderated and that this is according to a moderation plan.
- Checking that the record of learner achievements includes all relevant information.
- Ensuring the standards/qualifications that the learner has been assessed against are registered on the NQF.
- Checking that the assessments are carried out at an appropriate NQF level.
Sadly verifiers are not always sufficiently trained to do their work and it is especially when the staff of the learning institution are better educated, trained and experienced than the verifier that frustration and conflict may arise. It also sometimes happen that the verifier is expert in only one or a limited number of disciplines, with the result that he or she skims through other courses quickly while spending way too much time on the one or two subjects with which he or she feels comfortable. A third problem is that verifiers feel obliged to “add value” by always suggesting changes. The changes that they suggest are not always improvements, so that they increase paperwork to the point where it becomes totally unrealistic, even out of control.
Making use of verifiers is not the problem – they are important and it would be a step backwards if the QCTO does not use verifiers or use them only sporadically. The problem is that verifiers are often not sufficiently trained for the work that they should do so that verification becomes a worthless, rubber stamping ritual. Quality assurance bodies in EU Member States evaluate and approve private consultants to do verification of especially vocational education and training and, should the QCTO not have the capacity to do proper verification they may opt for a similar approach.
Dr Hannes Nel, MD Mentornet
18th Jun 2012 at 8:57 am #6637
Thank you Dr Nel, your artcle was very insightful and relevant. I have been through a number of verification processes and have always found the “value adding effect” very frustrating. In the near future I will be conducting my first external moderation and will be following your advice.
18th Jun 2012 at 9:20 am #6636
18th Jun 2012 at 9:26 am #6635
Dear Dr Nel
Thank you so much for your input. this has been such a concern to me (and still is). I have been searching for many answers regarding the role of a verifier. If verifiers roles and responsibilities are so important, why is the information on this specific role so limited. Surely there should be a policy in place from SAQA and all the SETAs, in order to standardise the Verifier’s responsibilities.
Verifiers conducting any form of evaluation should serve to strengthen accountability by providing reliable information in the progress of achievements, identifying key factors of the success and/or failures with the providers. Effective monitoring and evaluation should be systematic, therefor I would be satisfied if there was a form of a policy that stipulates the rules and regulations in standardising this role across all the SETAs and a stipulated guideline of processes, rules, regulations, accountabilities and responsibilities that regulates the Verifier. The planning system with regards to the Verifier seems to be unregulated. In some cases evaluation plans of some sort exist, but there is most definitely a lack of consistency in the quality of plans. Should the QCTO think of using Verifiers in this new system, surely there must be a set standard …………
18th Jun 2012 at 9:32 am #6634
18th Jun 2012 at 9:41 am #6633
Lizelle, I fully agree that the “value adding effect” (or lack of) is very frustrating, where do we draw the line? I am currently reading my verifiers qualification, and is so frustrated by the lack of information on Verifiers in South Africa. I am wondering if completing my studies will be worth all the long hours, efforts and research I have done so far. I don’t want the title Verifier, if the ETD environment does not clearly recognise this important role. I have found so many gaps, but unfortunately there is no-one that could possibly explain or give guidance ……………… and so we learn
18th Jun 2012 at 9:54 am #6632
18th Jun 2012 at 10:01 am #6631
The QCTO must provide this service and use skills levy funding to pay for it, in my view. They would need to set the standard and to vet the verifier so that the provider does not have to do this.
If the QCTO constantly wants to outsource services (as it appear they are doing at the moment) training is going to become very expensive for companies and individual learners because the provider is going to pass on these costs.
18th Jun 2012 at 10:07 am #6630
One of my pet concerns! As an assessor or moderator, you are required to be registered against certain criteria. In many cases, ETQA’s seem to have no such criteria for external moderators/verifiers or even the ETQA Practitioners who evaluate providers for accreditation. Originally there was a Verifiers unit standard but it seems that the consensus was that if you could moderate you should be able to verify/externally moderate. There is still an evaluator unit standard, but it seems to be a forgotten element generally lost in the integration of ETD Qualifications. The lack of criteria/registration for these higher level ETD Practitioners has led to a wide range of practices that are not consistent or even meaningful, not only from one ETQA to another, but within individual ETQA’s. No doubt the higher levels of compensation for these positions has attracted the usual bunch of candidates who have seen the gap where no form of registration can restrict their entry. The result is a field of practitioners, generally with the wrong attitude to start off with, and who are in general offering nothing of value to our system, quite the contrary, doing more harm than good.
General rule of thumb – the more superior and dictatorial they appear, the less likely they are to be qualified/trained/experienced enough to offer anything of value.
18th Jun 2012 at 10:26 am #6629
Thank you for seeing exactly what I am facing. I have my Assessor and Moderators Qualification. Now, because of finding continues gaps, I have left my employment 3 months ago in order to complete my studies (Evaluate Education, Training and Develpment Providers), in making unrealistic goals for myself to make a difference in becoming a Verifier. I believe in factual rules and regulations, and I do not believe that assuming the responsibilities and accountabilities, that I would be able to make an impact nor difference. I hope and trust that I have not made the wrong decision, as my future goal looks very disappointing ………….. I have posted last week, why is the information of Verifiers in South Africa so limited, but to my absolute shock, out of 8146 members in skills universe – I have yet to receive a comment or guide line ………… what do I do now?
18th Jun 2012 at 10:35 am #6628
I think you have just hit another sore spot. The QCTO will not be setting a standard or write a policy that regulates the Verifier as it does not exist as yet, they will do what they have been doing all along, outsource, to most probably the ETQAs, so that they are not responsible for this. Also, Providers may use Moderators that are not linked under their profile at the SETAs, as that will mean to them : external moderation. I think an external moderator should be explained in detail, and so the same for a verifier (to my knowledge, or lack of) I believe there is a difference …………..
18th Jun 2012 at 10:47 am #6627
Lizelle, I do not believe that the QCTO will address this. The responsibility is too much, they won’t know how to monitor this, as there is nothing that constitutes or regulate the role of the Verifier in South Africa. They will merely outsource this function to the SETAs, who as a matter of fact, have no guidelines, rules or regulations which will standardise Verifiers. Its not fair to the Verifier, nor the Provider, and this is also not fair to the learners.
What happens to negative feedback from a Verifier about an evaluation done at a Provider (whether on accreditation, learnerships, skills programmes, ect? Does the Provider get a copy of this feedback? Shouldn there be, for instance, learnerships conducted and the Verifier rejects this, who gets the information (does the Employer or industry) get this information?:
There is so many gaps in this system, I wish I had the time to address all of this, but my main concern is, that getting factual answers on my questions, are like training a one month old baby to walk.
18th Jun 2012 at 10:47 am #6626
18th Jun 2012 at 11:41 am #6625
You know, it is rather difficult for me to respond to issues such as this. I raised my predicament in the past but still feel that one is actually misusing the Skills Universe if you tell people what you are doing. For example, I wrote six books on assessment and quality assurance and at least two of them will be of great value to people like Lynel. We organise breakfast workshops from time to time where we discuss burning issues related to quality assurance of ETD. Had one only last Friday and those who attended loved it – especially the food. We all benefit from the networking that takes place. Enough “free advertising” – I will ask my IT Manager to find out how we can advertise on the Skills Universe and pay for the privilege. Dr Hannes Nel, MD Mentornet
18th Jun 2012 at 12:27 pm #6624
This is a very thought provoking discussion. I am involved in the Freight Forwarding industry (which facilitates the movement of internationally traded goods) and the idustry’s employer body, the South African Association of Freight Forwarders, is gearing itself up to be the industry verifier body because this has been recognised in the Transport SETA, which does not have the subject matter expertise to carry out the verification function. The problem is however that this function requires a great deal of human, IT and financial resources, so where are these to come from? National Skills Fund?
18th Jun 2012 at 1:47 pm #6623
18th Jun 2012 at 1:48 pm #6622
18th Jun 2012 at 3:54 pm #6621
Thank you, Dr Nel and contributors for your input. As a private provider in business for the last ten years, we have survived – despite the hammering that private providers take from all quarters. We have delivered learnerships across 6 ETQAs for the last decade. Having successfully qualified over three thousand learners on registered skills programmes and full qualifications (learnerships) to date , we have experienced very good, some OK and some shockingly bad verifiers in the process. I will mention the good verifiers first – working with SABPP, ETDP SETA, FIETA (now FP&M SETA) and TETA has been a pleasure. These ETQA’s know what they are looking for. Their verifiers are well trained, fair and professional. We have had a mixed bag of (initially) arrogant has-beens from FOODBEV SETA who did not cut it as a provider of learnerships, and took it out on us until I refused to have the verifier do any further work on our F&B programmes. Since then, we have had some very good, fair and thorough verifiers. Sometimes they make suggestions which I do not accept because they are paper driven and not practical in the production environment, and others which add value to quality implementation. Our primary SETA, (SERVICES), however, has been a challenge. Previously, they have sent us a verifier from Cape Town who did not know the difference between formative and summative assesments, a verifier (“Academic” from a KZN university) who insisted that all internal moderations should be a “double marking in green pen and an adding up of the ‘marks’ by the internal moderator!), and a verifier who stated that she would not uphold our level 3 learnerships because we did not do “Final Summative Assessments” with the learners. She backed down when I pointed out that this was not a requirement and, in fact was not even a SAQA requirement for FETC’s. In defence of Services SETA, there have been a couple of good verifiers. Their problem, however, remains in the issuing of certificates, with delays of up to four years being the “norm?” until I had a tantrum last week at the SETA and then got the certificates within a day, thanks to some people in the SETA who really care about service.
My question is, why should we resort to tantrums to get a service from any SETA? FOODBEV can and do issue certifcates within a day if neccesary, SABPP are very efficient, ETDP SETA issue certificates within 30 working days and FP&M SETA issue certificates within a month or two. It’s time that we stop accepting shoddy services from the SETAs and report them to higher authorities if they do not deliver. Providers deserve a fair deal, and learners deserve to get their certificates within a fair time frame. I sincerely hope that the QCTO screens verifiers carefully, and anyone who has had an appeal against them are scrapped with immediate effect. Having been in a higher public institution for 19 years – the last few as the Dean, I can safely say that they are getting away with murder, compared to what private providers have to endure from incompetent verifiers. It is time we stood up to these bullies and expose them. Private Providers, do not be afraid to do so. You are in business because you deserve to be.
Irene James – Dionysus Skills Development Initiative (Pty) Ltd.
18th Jun 2012 at 4:43 pm #6620
18th Jun 2012 at 5:07 pm #6619
Hi Charles, Such a valid point. So if the South
African Association of Freight Forwarders are gearing themself up to be the industry verifier body – what happens to the rest of the other industries? Will there be a set standard across all SETAs and various industries (not to mention SAQA) that will regulate the verifiers? We have so many questions, but who has the answers for us? If you find out before me, please let me know! Knowledge is power, and that goes for factual information that we all can use!
18th Jun 2012 at 5:10 pm #6618
Good Day Tshediso, my opinion on Facilitators, Assessors and Moderators, would always be – read the rules and regulations set out by SAQA – always follow them (they are there for a reason). If you are contracted to an Accredited Provider – read the guidelines set out by SAQA for Accredited Providers and aways make sure that you follow these rules.
18th Jun 2012 at 5:17 pm #6617
Irene, thank you for your comments. I fully agree that Providers deserve a fair deal as well as the learners. My question will then be: we know that there are incompetent verifiers – but if there is no policy that regulates what the Verifier is suppose to do – how can we expose them and get them out of the system in order to close the gap of under standard services? If I could view all the Verifier Reports from all the SETAs in South Africa for the past 3 years – I would most probably get so much incompetent reports that is not valid nor developmental to the providers/moderators/assessors. Maybe I should not open a can of worms – but would that not be interesting, to know exactly what is going on in all the industries?
18th Jun 2012 at 6:04 pm #6616
To really mix it up, my personal opinion is that the whole education industry is so over regulated that in this instance I would like to see the baby thrown out with all the dirty water. In the past we had lecturers and trainers who were qualified in their disciplines who managed the whole process of testing with a system of external moderation e.g. in the university setup. They were selected by the “educational institution” on merit from applicants who wanted to do the job. I believe that providers should be allowed to select their own moderators (internal and external). The chaff would soon be sorted from the wheat. Where the ETQA should be involved is in the pre-accreditation of the provider as now, where the qms including qualifications of facilitators, assessors, and moderators should be evaluated. Probably a pipe dream asking for trouble and maybe I still live in cloud cuckoo land where I believe in the integrity of the majority of providers.
18th Jun 2012 at 6:16 pm #6615
Each time a provider takes the trouble to report a verifier/submit an appeal, they must have had a valid reason to complain – I certainly did. It takes effort and courage to submit a complaint/appeal. And if the SETA tries to send that incompetent verifier again, we need to have the courage to stand by our convictions and say “enough” – we will not accept them for the following reasons…. as submitted previously… And if the [new] QCTO tries to send them we need to send them a history of our complaints about the individual. And take it higher authorites if the ETQA does not listen. AKA “The Blade”. That way we can slowly irradicate the rot. As providers, we are at the coal face of what it takes to work with industry and Corporate Clients who expect a return on their investment. And blue chip industry clients, unlike ignorant school leavers, are unforgiving if they do not receive quality. As a Private Provider, you are only as best as your last intervention – unlike some public providers who are constantly bailed out by government, despite sub delivery and poor standards of quality learning. And we cannot afford to have fools stand in our path of excellence. It’s really time to get rid of the incompetent blockages in the education and training system and provide excellence, as private providers to take the youth and employees forward. ETQAs have a job to do – quality assure. And they have a responsibility to do that efficiently and professionally. Failing which, they must be reported.
20th Jun 2012 at 3:23 pm #6614
Irene, it is very frustrating. I understand where you are coming from. This is why I have asked the question over and over again. What policy regulates the Verifier/Evaluator. There is no standard set out for this role, therefor you get incompetent Verifiers who actually only has a Moderator Qualification and do this Verifier Role for an extra income. Is this wrong, I say it is – but who am I to judge anybody? In order to get a return on investment, the role of the Verifier is significant, as this person is also the one finding possibe gaps and make recommendations. A great verifier will even guide the provider to achieve goals.
17th Jul 2012 at 1:43 pm #6613
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