Calibration of accounting learning standards

In preparation for the new higher education standards framework and a new national regulator to monitor them (i.e. Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency), the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) endorsed the accounting threshold learning standards at their November 2010 meeting. The latter established the minimum learning standards for all Australian accounting bachelors and coursework masters programs. The ABDC also agreed to seed fund a follow-on project which involved assessing achievement of the learning standards.  CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand followed suit and provided $40,000 as well to pilot this initiative.  Later in 2011 the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) provided a further $183,000 for the project Achievement Matters, led by the University of Western Australia and The University of Sydney in partnership with Curtin University, Deakin University, RMIT University, The University of Adelaide and Western Sydney University.

Working with accounting academics, employers and professional bodies, the project adopted a staged approach to developing a shared understanding of the standards that students completing an accounting degree must attain prior to graduating. The stages are outlined below:

Stage 1 Each expert reviewer assesses three samples of student work submitted as evidence of a specific learning standard/s and submits their independent reviews online (using SPARKPLUS). Reviews include a judgement and justification on whether the standard had been met. To ensure confidence, the review process is anonymous.  Reviewers have the opportunity to reassess their own judgements by considering the anonymous reviews of peers prior to the face-to-face workshop.

Stage 2 Reviewers participate in a workshop and consider the reviews from other participants. In groups of four or five, discussion focuses on judgement and justifications until a consensus is reached within the group on the first sample. This also provides an opportunity for each reviewer to reflect on their previously submitted individual review.

Stage 3 Reviewers discuss key differences until a consensus is reached across all groups. This three step calibration process is important in developing a shared understanding of the standards that must be achieved by accounting graduates.

Stage 4 Reviewers repeat the above steps with the second and third sample.

Stage 5 Reviewers repeat the entire process with new samples at the workshop until there is confirmation that the calibration process has been effective, and there is agreement on the standard for an accounting graduate.

In 2017 following the completion of the OLT project and the end of the funding a proposal to form a Special Interest Group as part of AFAANZ was accepted by the AFAAANZ Board.

SIG 9 is responsible for convening an annual calibration workshop and AFAANZ maintains the financial records.

Any Higher education provider wishing to submit work for moderation by calibrated reviewers should email AFAANZ


To become a member of the Calibration of Learning Standards SIG you will first need to become a member of AFAANZ. The fee for AFAANZ membership is AU$132 including GST for applicants residing in Australia and AU$120 for applicants residing outside Australia. Note that membership is based on a calendar year.

The fee for the Calibration of Learning Standards SIG is AU$22 including GST for applicants residing in Australia and AU$20 for applicants residing outside Australia. Click on the purchase button to gain access to this SIG. You may also "Join this Group" further below to be keep up to date with the latest news and events.

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