In this chapter, the researcher discusses the literature on competence-based assessment. The first part examines the purposes, the interpretations of competence-based assessment (CBA), the critical attributes of CBA and the issues related to competence. The second part looks into the implementation of CBA around the world and later focuses on the implementation of CBA in Malaysia.
The era of the knowledge -economy and globalisation requires not only individuals who possess a sound understanding of specific subject matter but also those who have relevant industry-related skills and interpersonal skills. These attributes and capabilities are necessary for learners to acquire in order to function well in today’s complex and global societies (Baartman et al., 2007). Furthermore, acquisition of complex competences (Baartman et al., 2007) has to be developed in the future human capital through purposeful, effective, learner-centred and competence-based programmes (Baartman et al., 2007) in order to prepare students to meet the needs of tomorrow’s world. The report of the United States Department of Education Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, the so-called SCANS Report (McNabb, 1997), made clear that students must be ready to function in collaborative settings, interpret complex requirements, and exhibit self-directed, self-assessing behaviour on the job. This means that employers would want more from the graduates than just entry-level job skills which would help develop a nation progressively in accordance to its political and social needs. The relationship between learning and assessment (discussed in Chapters X and Y) means that assessment should take account of political and social purposes (Broadfoot, 1996). Different vocational and educational training programmes from school level to university level have been introduced to prepare and equip individuals to fit into the labour market. One such programme is Competency-Based Education (CBE) with the emphasis on assessment (competency-based assessment) being seen as key to the success of its implementation (Tillema et al, 2000; Frederiksen, 1984; Baartman et al., 2007).
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Any forms of assessment – s including CBA – would usually have one or more of three basic purposes to diagnose learning;, to select students for particular provision; to certificate achievements (Carless et. al., 2006; Freeman & Lewis, 1997; Ecclestone, 1996; Rowntree, 1987). CBA has been utilised by schools, training colleges and industriy for two main purposes; to measure competencies (McNerney & Briggins, 1995) and to certificate (International Labour Organisation, 1996).
Measuring competence is one of the main purposes of CBA.Generally, the reason for the implementation of CBA is to determine that learners have sufficient knowledge and skills to contribute effectively to the work force(Canning, 2000; Ecclestone, 1997; Kerka, 1998; LPM, 2002; McNabb, 1997). However,according to Hyland (1994),
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