Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

Standards for Standards: The Development of Australian Professional Standards for Teaching

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

Standards for Standards: The Development of Australian Professional Standards for Teaching

Article excerpt

Professional standards for teaching have been developed in many countries during the 1990s. In Australia, the first wave of standards development has been dominated by the large state government school systems, and influenced by competency-based conceptions of standards. This paper provides a review of the first wave standards, concluding that these standards are characterised by long lists of duties, opaque language, generic skills, decontextualised performances, an expanded range of duties and weak assessments. As a second wave of standards development begins, led by teachers professional associations and deeply influenced by the methods of the American National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the paper proposes a set of standards for development of professional standards in Australia. Standards, it is argued, should be brief, transparent, specialised, contextualised, focused on teaching and learning, and matched by strong assessments.

Introduction

During the last decade, the standards metaphor has been applied widely to programs of educational change in the English-speaking world. Curriculum content standards have been developed to describe what students should know and be able to do, performance standards to describe how much of this content they should master at particular ages or stages, and opportunity to learn standards to underwrite the equity of system-level provision of resources to schools (Darling-Hammond, 1997). In the professional domain, performance standards have been developed to describe what beginning teachers, experienced teachers and school leaders need to know and be able to do. This standards-based reform movement has reached its apogee in the United States, where a multitude of state and national standards map curriculum content and performance (Tucker & Codding, 1998) and three major national projects have attempted to identify and assess professional standards for beginning teachers (INTASC, 1991), standards for experienced teachers (NBPTS, 1989) and standards for school principals (ISLLC, 1996).

Since the publication of Teachers' work (Education Department, 1992) professional standards, in one form or another, have been developed in many Australian contexts. Unlike the United States (US) professional standards, which have been developed by national consortiums and professional associations, most of the Australian professional standards have been the product of state government education agencies. Compared with the US professional standards, Australian standards frameworks have been more quickly developed, more closely aligned to the needs of state education departments, with less involvement of professional associations and other stakeholder groups, with less attention to assessment strategies, and at considerably less expense. One significant exception to this rule is the National Standards and Guidelines for Initial Teacher Education produced by the Australian Council of Deans of Education after extensive consultation with universities, teacher education organisations, school authorities and professional standards organisations (Adey, 1998).

The purpose of this paper is to review the first wave of work on performance standards developed by employers and to suggest some directions for the coming second wave of development by teachers professional associations and their academic colleagues. The paper begins with an analysis of four first-wave Australian standards frameworks: the National Competency Framework for Beginning Teachers developed by the National Project on the Quality of Teaching and Learning (NPQTL) (1996) and published by the Australian Teaching Council, the Professional Standards for Teaching produced in Victoria by the Standards Council for the Teaching Profession (1996), the Standards Framework for Teachers prepared in Queensland by the Centre for Teaching Excellence (1997) and the Level 3 Competency Standards developed by consultants for the Education Department of WA (1997). …

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