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Assessment Certification Examination (ACE)
NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA)

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) for the Higher School Certificate: procedures

ACE 8109

Last Updated: 1 April 2019

NESA has delegated to principals the authority to assess and approve applications for recognition of prior learning (RPL).

Step 1: Focus on learning outcomes

Consideration should focus on the learning outcomes for those courses where it appears that significant recognition might be appropriate. The statements of learning outcomes for those courses (whether Board Developed or Board Endorsed) should be provided to the student, and assistance given to ensure that the student understands the expected learning outcomes. The student should be informed of the nature of the RPL assessment, the kind of evidence that can be used and the forms in which it can be presented.

Step 2: Student provides evidence

An application for recognition of prior learning should be submitted by the student to the school or college principal (see: Application to the Principal for Recognition of Prior Learning ). The student should provide evidence as to how their prior learning relates to the outcomes of the course(s) for which RPL is sought. This evidence may take a variety of forms, such as samples of work and documentation relating to prior learning and/or employment.

Step 3: Assessing the learning outcomes

A range of techniques may be employed to assess the extent to which the student has achieved the outcomes of the course(s) for which recognition is sought. Assessment should be appropriate to the learning outcomes being assessed, and draw on expertise in the subject area as required.

Step 4: Criteria for granting RPL

Students do not necessarily need to demonstrate all of the outcomes of a given course in order to be granted recognition.

Assessment should only relate to outcomes of the course to do with knowledge, skills and understanding, not values and attitudes outcomes.

Principals should be satisfied that the student can demonstrate sufficient outcomes:

  • to warrant exemption from certain course requirements
  • for the purpose of certifying the satisfactory achievement of the relevant course requirements (eg a particular assessment task; the Preliminary course)
  • to ensure that the student has an adequate foundation to proceed to the next component of the course.

Step 5: Advice to student on the result of the application

The school should advise the student, in writing, of:

  • the extent of recognition granted in each subject
  • whether any special conditions apply
  • if applicable, the reasons for rejecting the application totally or partially
  • if applicable, an indication that the student has the right of appeal.

It is expected that claims relating to RPL will be resolved between the student and the school.

Step 6: Credentialling

Where the principal grants RPL, the supporting documentation must be retained by the school.

Where RPL is given for the whole of a Preliminary course, the Records, Credentialling and Reporting Branch of NESA must be notified by the principal.

The student will be credentialled for the completed HSC course only and the HSC course units will count towards the HSC pattern of study. The Preliminary course for which RPL is given is not credentialled and does not count in the Preliminary pattern of study.