Competence criteria need to be constantly reviewed and in line with national curricula and learning outcomes for different occupations.
To facilitate the validation of prior learning towards shortening the required study time at upper secondary level, it is necessary to prepare self-assessment checklists based on the current curricula in each discipline. The self-assessment checklists seek to set out the criteria for the discipline in question in a measurable and clear manner for use in the validation process. This is in line with EU strategies on “outcome-based learning” (Towards a European Qualification System in Lifelong Learning, Commission of the European Communities, 2005).
By emphasising measurable learning outcomes or competence criteria when establishing benchmarks, the validation of prior learning is made easier. Thus, the focus is on the actual competence irrespective of where or how it was acquired. CEDEFOP defines the concept as follows: Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand and/or be able to do at the end of a period of learning.
The curriculum needs to be scrutinised and such competence criteria that are unclear or very subjective made quantifiable by emphasising the manifestation of the competences in question. Therefore, before embarking on a validation project, a self-assessment checklist based on the criteria of the discipline is prepared to enable individuals to relate their competences to measurable criteria and thus render them visible. It is important that the self-assessment checklist is approved by relevant stakeholders and accessible to those individuals who are authorised to validate prior learning in any given discipline.