The first 2 letters in the acronym VARCS stands for:
Valid: Is it relevant to learning outcomes and assessment criteria? It is important to show how the evidence is relevant. For example, a photograph can be useful, however, it would need to be annotated to explain what the photograph is meant to show and who the photograph shows if relating to a learner.
Authentic: Is it the learner’s own work? It is good practice to have a statement from the learner confirming the work presented is their own. Having worked with a learner throughout their qualification, an assessor would understand how the learner writes and the language they use. They can use this knowledge to ensure that the work presented is the learner’s own.
Where learners use direct quotes from a website or book, this is fine but should be clearly identified as a quote by using quotation marks and an explanation as to where the quote came from. It does not have to be a recognised referencing system, such as Harvard, but does need to state which book or website it is from. It is good practice for the learner to discuss what they have read in their own words.
Ideally there should be a signature from the learner, however, with electronic work and remote teaching we are aware that this may be difficult. Where this is the case, the following examples could be used:
- the evidence could have been sent through a secure email so a copy of the learner’s e-mail to the assessor could be used to authenticate
- an e-portfolio system should have individual learner log in which authenticates
- a learner declaration that the learner produces confirming that the contents of the portfolio are all their own
- a recording (either video or audio) of the learner confirming the work is their own or undertaking some assessment or reflective discussion can be used to authenticate
The final 3 letters of VARCS stands for:
Reliable: Is it a true reflection of the learner’s level of knowledge and performance? If you are assessing knowledge, has the learner written the content themselves? References can be used, however, it is good practice to encourage the learner to write in their own words to show that they have understood what they have read. If competence is being assessed, then consider if there is further evidence that can be produced that supports an observation or witness testimony. This could be photographic, video recordings or even redacted work that the learner produced while performing the task.
Current: Does it meet current legislation or processes? How long ago was the evidence created and can it be considered still up to date? In general, unless legislation or regulations have changed, 12 months is acceptable. If the evidence presented is over 12 months, then support this with information relating to the learners CPD.
Sufficient: Is there enough content in either knowledge or through performance to meet learning outcomes? Does it meet command verbs, for example, 'describe’, ‘explain’, ‘list’? Does it meet the requirements or amplification as required, for example, if 3 examples are needed, are there 3 examples? If workplace evidence is asked for does the evidence come from the learner at work?