Characteristics of TASC accredited Senior Secondary Courses

TASC accredited courses can be described with regard to their:
  • level of complexity (how 'hard'/demanding they are)
  • size value (how big/long they are)
  • robustness (the degree of reliability and validity of results issued in a course).

Each of these course characteristics is explained below.

Levels of Complexity

TASC assigns a complexity level to TASC accredited courses (including TCE senior secondary courses), TASC recognised courses, and VET certificates and units of competency. The levels of complexity in senior secondary education range from Level 1 to Level 4 (4 being the highest level of complexity). TASC accredited level 3 and 4 courses contribute to the calculation of Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks.

The levels describe the complexity of learning in the course. They are not descriptions of the ability of learners who might undertake them. For example, if very capable learners choose to do a level 1 course it does not mean that the course should be at a higher level. An example might be that there is a level 1 course in using the computer. If a very capable person has never used a computer before and needs those skills they may undertake the level 1 course. They may complete it in less time and with less effort than some other students but it is still a level 1 course.

The characteristics of learning at each of the levels:

Level 4 - in general, courses at this level provide theoretical and practical knowledge and skills for specialised and/or skilled work and/or further learning, requiring:
  • broad factual, technical and some theoretical knowledge of a specific area or a broad field of work and learning
  • a broad range of cognitive, technical and communication skills to select and apply a range of methods, tools, materials and information to:
    1. complete routine and non-routine activities
    2. provide and transmit solutions to a variety of predictable and sometimes unpredictable problems

  • application of knowledge and skills to demonstrate autonomy, judgement and limited responsibility in known or changing contexts and within established parameters.

Level 3 - the learner is expected to acquire a combination of theoretical and/or technical and factual knowledge and skills and use judgement when varying procedures to deal with unusual or unexpected aspects that may arise. Some skills in organising self and others are expected. Level 3 is a standard suitable to prepare students for further study at the tertiary level. VET competencies at this level are often those characteristic of an AQF Certificate III.

Level 2 - the learner is expected to carry out tasks and activities that involve a range of knowledge and skills, including some basic theoretical and/or technical knowledge and skills. Limited judgement is required, such as making an appropriate selection from a range of given rules, guidelines or procedures. VET competencies at this level are often those characteristic of an AQF Certificate II.

Level 1 - the learner is expected to carry out tasks and activities that draw on a limited range of knowledge and skills. The tasks and activities generally have a substantial repetitive aspect to them. Minimum judgement is needed as there are usually very clear rules, guidelines or procedures to be followed. VET competencies at this level are often those characteristic of an AQF Certificate I.

More detail about the characteristics of Levels 1 - 4 is in the document linked below:

(Updated Sep 25, 2012)

Size Value and Design Time

TASC assigns a size value to TASC accredited courses (including TCE senior secondary courses),TASC recognised courses, and VET certificates and units of competency. The size value is based on factors such as:
  • information from course writers about the amount of learning covered,
  • the range and nature of the content and assessable outcomes of the course,
  • comparisons with similar courses.

Size values represent a measure of how big the course is and tend to be given as 5, 10 or 15.
While the size value takes into account information about the amount of class contact time (or its equivalent) that the majority of students might require to complete the course (1 size value equating to 10 hours design time), it is not a prescription of actual delivery time.

The total student contact time (or equivalent) that a course provider can formally allocate is a scarce resource and there are many competing demands upon it. The size value of a course is intended as guidance to a course provider in allocating this scarce resource. An allocation of contact time (or its equivalent) by the provider needs to be a reasonable decision - one that, in general, affords students taking the course a reasonable opportunity to meet the requirements. Individual students, of course, may in practice take or need more or fewer hours to cover completely and thoroughly the content of the course and to reach the required standards.

The Relationship between Size and Credit Points for the Tasmanian Certificate of Education

The TCE requires 'a significant amount of learning at a set standard'.
We will recognise a very broad range of learning, and are very flexible about where, when and how that learning happens.

To do this, we give each type of learning a 'credit point' value. A credit-point value shows the amount of learning at a set standard that can count towards meeting the requirement of the new certificate. To meet the participation and achievement standard for the new TCE, a student will need to have 120 credit points in education and training (at Level 1, 2, 3 or 4), with at least 80 credit points in studies rated at complexity level 2 or higher.

Successful completion of a course gains credit points equal to the size value of the course. Credit points are only allocated if a student achieves at least the required standard in a course (currently a 'PA', 'Satisfactory Completion' or 'Pass' award for a TCE course, 'competent' for a VET competency, and 'awarded' for a VET certificate). For details, see the TCE Planner tool available from the TASC website page:


TASC assigns a robustness rating to TASC accredited courses (including TCE senior secondary courses), TASC recognised courses and VET certificates and units of competency. A five level system is used to reflect the degree of reliability and validity of results issued in a course. Robustness level 1 is the lowest, level 5 the highest. Courses must have a robustness level of 2 or higher in order to contribute to a student's participation and achievement standard for the new TCE.

The criteria and standards diagram for the five levels of robustness is in the document linked below:*

(Updated Mar 5, 2008)

Three criteria are used:

1. the nature of the evidence of achievement:
  • how much evidence is there? (A lot or a little?)
  • how direct is the evidence ? (Is it closely linked to the achievement or tenuously inferential?)
  • how accessible is the evidence? (Can no-one else ever see it or is it easily and readily open to view?)

2. the reliability/precision of the evidence:
  • would the result change much with a different assessor?
  • would the result change much on a different occasion?
  • how different are the achievements of two students with the same results?

3. the validity/truth of the evidence:
  • is there a match of the evidence and what the achievement result seems to promise?
  • is there a match of the evidence and the achievement result?

TASC assigns an overall level of robustness using this method to inform an on-balance judgment. The blanks in the table represent cases intermediate between the higher and lower entries. The word 'achievement' is used here in sense that VET practitioners would use the word 'competence' or 'element of competence'.
The notion of 'comparability' of results is the idea that, when two students from different providers/assessors have a result labelled as the same, the achievement of the two students is usefully similar and so the results are thus fit to be compared one with another.

*SOURCE: Extending the range of qualifications and learning recognised on the Tasmanian Certificate of Education: A report from the TQA non-TCE recognition steering group (March 2005) Appendix 6.1
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