Navigating the new educational landscape: The National Teaching Standards and your Professional Learning
22nd October 2013
The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) represents a new approach to the quality of teaching and learning in our nation’s schools. This is not just an Australian development – it is of international concern – as countries around the world grapple with attracting, developing and retaining an effective teacher workforce. This trend is clearly articulated in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) report ‘Teachers Matter’ (2005), which states:
Countries benefit from clear and concise statements or profiles of what teachers are expected to know and be able to do. Such profiles are necessary to provide the framework to guide initial teacher education, teacher certification, teachers’ on-going professional development and career advancement, and to assess the extent to which these different elements are being effective. The teacher profiles need to reflect the student learning objectives that schools are trying to achieve, and profession-wide understanding of what counts as accomplished teaching. (p. 95)
The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL, 2012) is organised into four career stages, including Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished, and Lead. The stages are designed to reflect the continuum of a teacher's developing professional expertise from undergraduate preparation (Graduate level) through to full registration as a teacher (Proficient level), with further provision to gain recognition as an exemplary teaching practitioner (Highly Accomplished level) and being certified as a leader (Lead level) within the profession.
Underpinning the design of these standards is the assumption that Australian school education must educate young Australians to become confident and creative individuals, who are successful independent learners, and who leave school with the capacity to be active and informed citizens. Research shows that teacher quality has an impact on student learning (Hattie, 2012), and that standards-based performance management along with regular and targeted feedback can improve teacher practice (Darling-Hammond, 2010).
Professional teaching standards can also be used by individual teachers to inform the development of their own professional learning goals. They provide a framework for teachers to chart their professional learning needs, and reflect on what they have achieved and what areas they wish to develop further.
According to the NSW Institute of Teachers’ Great Teaching, Inspired Learning: Blueprint for Action (2013) program, 2014 is the year that all employing authorities teachers in New South Wales will be introducing the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework to their employees. It is estimated this transition will take up to 4 years to fully implement. This means that all NSW teachers will be expected to engage with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and their processes, including accreditation, performance management and professional development by 2018. During this time, individual schools, education systems, professional groups and associations, and professional learning communities and networks will be seeking new ways to support the professional learning needs of teachers across the APST career stages. This is a time where professional learning providers need to provide more personalised and customised offerings to ways to assist teachers in navigating the new educational landscape.