2. Competency Assessment Philosophy

Traditional education is based on a model of knowledge. Tests, projects or assignments are generally designed to verify that an individual “knows” enough to be granted a designation such as a certificate, degree or diploma. For many professions, knowledge, in the form of an academic qualification, is required to practice. Such an academic qualification, however, does not ensure that an individual can “do” anything specific through application of knowledge.

Competency assessment bridges the gap between "knowing" and "doing". Instead of a test which is designed to "tell me what you know", competency assessment takes the approach of "show me what you can do".

Traditional assessment systems usually have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Learning outcomes are mainly lower order skills, such as Remembering, Understanding and Applying.
  • Assessment is associated with a training structure curriculum (course or programme).
  • Parts of the curricula are assessed through subjects or lessons.
  • Parts of the curricula topics are included in examinations.
  • Passing criteria are based on marking scales.
  • It is done within limited periods of time.
  • It is focused on identifying gaps in theoretical aspects.
  • Statistical comparisons are used.
  • Competency-based assessment is defined as a process in which we can count the following characteristics:

  • Learning outcomes are mainly higher order skills, such as Analysing, Evaluating and Creating.
  • It is based on standards that describe the competency levels (WMO-No. 1083 and No. 49).
  • Standards include competence criteria that provide details regarding the operational work and are correlated to the job position.
  • The assessment is individual; there is no comparison among assessees.
  • It provides a judgment for the assessed workers: competent or not yet competent.
  • It is done, preferably, in real working situations - based on direct observation or simulations.
  • It is an ongoing process rather than a snapshot.
  • It is not directly related to the completion of specific training.
  • It includes the recognition of acquired competencies as a result of work experience.
  • It plays an important role in the development of skills and abilities of the assessed.
  • It identifies the individual improvement and training needs.
  • It is the basis for the certification of competency.
  • 2.1 Knowledge, ability and competency: The know-tell-do continuum

    The "perfect" assessment of competence comes from observation of an individual successfully doing a desired activity in a range of different contexts. This is the application of knowledge. The goal in competency assessment is not perfection; rather, it is to document the assessment process, the standards against which individuals are assessed, and to have processes in place to identify deficiencies. For more, see the WMO-No.1205 Guide on Competency.

    In assessing individuals, the "perfect" option is often neither cost-effective nor practical. In particular, for rare events, other methods of assessment may be required. If "doing" is the preferred option, the next alternative is “telling”. In this case, an individual recounts what she/he would do in a certain situation.

    The competency assessment deals with the defined performance criteria and the processes associated with specific job tasks. In real life, job tasks can rarely be split to uniquely match up with each competency standard. That means that, during an assessment, several performance criteria may be assessed simultaneously for some tasks.

    2.2 Uniqueness of assessment

    No two organizations providing aeronautical meteorological services are identical. Thus, every competency assessment system will be different. For example, within the WMO Members, there are aeronautical meteorological service providers with thousands of forecasters and others with only a few. Clearly, a different competency assessment system will be used. This Toolkit is designed to provide a framework which is adaptable to all countries and territories, from largest to smallest, from highly developed to least developed. A common foundation exists, with similar overall competencies, but each organization will create its own assessment system.