Essential Skills for a Techy World Measured

Competencies appraised with new credential.
Dec 15, 2023
The future needs people who know how to learn.

We’re in a period of rapid change, driven by technology, the skills at a highest premium are an ability to be creative, think critically and learn on the fly.

These abilities are not always that easy to assess and to capture students' competencies in these areas the University of Melbourne Assessment research unit has launched the inaugural Australian Learner Competency Credential (the Australian LCC) issuing students in Years 6, 10 and 12 from nine schools across Australia with the credential in November.

Enterprise Professor Sandra Milligan - Director, Melbourne Assessment, says, “The credential was developed over the period 2020-2023 with UoM working with the 36 New Metrics schools. The schools saw the need to assess and credential more of what they value in their teaching.

“The assessments were designed on the back of 15 years of research at the University of Melbourne which worked out how to assess these 'difficult to assess attainments' to the same standard of rigour expected in examinations and other high stakes assessments. They wanted people to be able to trust and ensure that assessments accurately reflect a student's strengths.”

Teaching or encouraging the skills that the credential assesses happens indirectly, Milligan says, “These skills are learned, or not, while you are learning other things. They can't be taught in direct lessons. It’s how a student learns that really matters, and whether or not they are allowed to learn in a way that expands their skills.

“Students need to be critical, creative learners, who know how to learn whether they are being instructed by a teacher, are in the workplace, or in the community,” she says.

This new qualification comes at a time of continuing debate from the education sector over how well domain-based knowledge and skills tests prepare students for the future.

Australian LCC aims to enhance learner’s ability to thrive in further education and future employment, by focusing on complex competencies like critical thinking, collaboration, communication, active citizenship, and agency in learning. It is designed to complement existing testing measures, such as school reports, NAPLAN and the ATAR.

Milligan says, “Traditional metrics of learning and schooling success report what a learner knows about a particular subject or topic, or what they can do under timed, high-stakes tests or examinations. But to thrive in a modern AI world, students need to be able to demonstrate more than that. They need to be collaborative, build and maintain connections, act ethically, be entrepreneurial, be critical thinkers and reflective. Such qualities are what this new credential is all about.”

Principals, teachers, and students shared testimonials highlighting the benefits of the Australian LCC in their schools and the importance of this new qualification for learners to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

Jonathan Walter, Principal of Carey Baptist Grammar School in Victoria, emphasises the importance of educational qualifications telling a more compelling story about who students are; “While academic measures like the ATAR will always be important, we also know that these measures don’t tell the whole story of an individual. An education provides children with a broad range of skills beyond the academic, and through the Australian LCC, we’re now able to measure and validate these.”

Erica Hurley, Principal of Melaleuca Park Primary in South Australia, explains the value for teachers, "the opportunity to assess competencies rather than just knowledge will allow teachers to develop their pedagogy in learning design to differentiate for all students. Students will be able to reflect on their growth to become self-regulated learners."

Nicole Bugeja, a Year 12 student at Santa Sophia Catholic College in NSW, is pleased her school has supported her to develop “skills that are really fundamental for success,” and “really useful for the workplace.”

Sholto Marti, a Year 12 student at Wurun Senior Campus in Victoria, has already guaranteed an offer to the ANU for a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science through their early offer system, which looked at his capabilities in Year 11 and 12. This type of entry to further study is enhanced by their engagement in new assessments.

Image by Los Muertos Crew