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The Rules of Evidence & Why They Are So Important

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Within the VET industry, the RTO Standards Guide is a critical document that aims to assist RTOs in understanding their obligations. It helps them ensure their practices deliver a quality education and training experience to every student throughout their learning journey.

Among the most important sections of this guide is Conduct Effective Assessment and specifically Clause 1.8-2 – Rules of Evidence.

RTO assessment provides evidence of a learner’s competency – in terms of skills, knowledge, and practical application. A series of prescribed module-based tasks must be completed before the assessor for the learner to demonstrate their skills. A range of evidence is required for the assessor to make a final judgement of a learner’s competency – and these are the Rules of Evidence.

What are the Rules of Evidence?

Closely linked to the Principles of Assessment (Fairness, Flexibility, Validity, Reliability), the Rules of Evidence highlight factors intrinsic to evidence collection.

There are 4 Rules of Evidence:

  1. Validity – This is based on the confidence the assessor has in the learner's attributes, knowledge, and skills relating to the learning unit for competence and assessment.

Valid assessments incorporate:

  1. That skills and knowledge are integrated with practical application.

  2. That the learner can demonstrate their knowledge/skills on demand.

  3. Learner performance aligns with the unit requirements for competency.

  4. Assessment tools must cover the unit in its entirety.

  5. Competency can be proven via direct evidence (oral exam, presentations, workplace performance), indirect evidence (portfolio, written assignment, etc.), and supplementary evidence (third-party reporting, work journals, training records).

  6. Sufficiency – indicates the assessor is confident that the assessment evidence (often through a comprehensive checklist) is enough to reliably judge a learner’s competency. Sufficiency standards must align with relevant industry best practices; for example, assessors may visit the learner’s workplace or have them participate in active role-play. This demonstrates both knowledge and well as practical skills.

  7. Authenticity – the assessor must be convinced that the assessment evidence is the learner's work. While face-to-face assessment is ideal, this is not always possible, and strategies to meet this challenge include Zoom assessments, signed declarations, live webinars, etc.

  8. Currency – Is the competency of the learner being assessed current? Evidence of assessment must be timely or at least very recent. This will vary between industries, but overall, industry standards dictate that evidence collected over two years ago is no longer current.

The Importance of the Rules of Evidence

Following the Rules of Evidence to the letter is critical. Failure to collect valid, sufficient, authentic, and current evidence of competency may result in unqualified or underqualified students and workers. An RTO that is audited and found to be non-compliant in this matter (or other standards) risks loss of license or funding


It is somewhat concerning that, according to ASQA, fewer than 30% of RTOs audited in the few years leading up to 2020 met the required training and assessment standards.

RTO Intelligence can help your RTO maintain compliance.

Contact RTO Intelligence Today

We are an Australian-based RTO consultancy firm with more than 20 years of expertise in the vocational education sector. We offer specialist services for compliance, accreditation, strategic planning, RTO setup and auditing, and more.

Call us now on 1300 833 424 in Australia or complete our online contact form.

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