Evaluation of the Implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
Teachers share a significant responsibility in preparing young people to lead successful and productive lives. The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, endorsed by commonwealth, state and territory education ministers in December 2010, now underpin current national education reforms at all stages of a teacher’s career.
In 2013 the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) conducted a national survey of Australian educators regarding their use of and attitudes towards the Standards. A total of 6,002 teachers, school leaders, teacher educators and pre-service teachers responded. Further evidence was obtained from interviews and workshops conducted as part of a national forum. Results of this research appear in a recent report: – Interim Report 2: 2014 Key Findings of the Evaluation of the Implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. The report was released in April this year by AITSL and The University of Melbourne.
Formative findings from the Evaluation provide key information in understanding how the Standards are being used and how they are impacting educators’ practice. At this point in time, the study found that:
The implementation of the Standards is a shared responsibility. Given the complexity of the national education system, it is important to understand the different roles and relationships between diverse stakeholders. This is crucial to support teachers in embedding the Standards in their daily practice.
The survey data revealed four major factors driving the implementation of the Standards.
The study revealed that high levels of knowledge and prior use of the Standards leads to positive attitudes, which in turn drives intentions to implement them.
Further analysis explored the relationships between these factors, in order to understand behavioural change and the implementation process. Details of the analysis are available in the Evaluation’s Interim Report 1: 2013 Key Findings. The main findings are as follows.
Teachers’ attitudes towards the Standards
Teachers’ perceptions of the Standards were examined across the above four factors by years of experience. The findings showed that while a majority of teachers have positive attitudes and high intentions to implement the Standards, early career teachers (0-5 years of experience) are more positive about the Standards and have higher intentions to implement them as compared to highly experienced teachers (more than 26 years of experience).
Standards’ impact on the teaching profession
There is significant agreement that the Standards are valuable to the teaching profession. The findings to date show that school leaders are more positive about the impact of the Standards on the teaching profession than teachers. An average of 93% of school leaders and 81% of teachers agree that the Standards provide a common language for the teaching profession. Over 80% of teachers and school leaders agree that the Standards are important for supporting the teaching profession. Eighty per cent of school leaders agree that Standards will lead to increased student outcomes as compared to 63% of teachers.
Respondents were asked about the impact and value the Standards have on their practice. Pre-service teachers are generally more positive towards the Standards and perceive them to have greater impact on their practice. Teachers, on the other hand, are more likely to perceive implementing the Standards as 'hard work'. They are less likely to see impact on their practice as compared to other educators.
The Evaluation will continue to explore teachers’ confidence in using the Standards. The findings show that while a majority of teachers are confident in using the Standards, only half of them reported that their teaching is informed by the Standards.
Support for engagement with the Standards
In terms of collaboration, a majority of school leaders (85%) agree that they collaborate with others within their school to implement the Standards, as compared to 51% of teachers. Similarly, while 80% of school leaders have reported that they provide feedback and appraisal on teaching practice based on the Standards, only 43% of teachers reported having received such feedback and appraisal.
The disparity between the perceptions of teachers and school leaders’ use of the Standards suggests that more needs to be done in order to understand how teachers can be supported to implement them.
These emergent findings provide important information to guide implementation and the Evaluation process. As the key aim of the Standards is to improve teacher quality, it is important that strategies are in place to ensure that teachers are supported in using the Standards effectively in their classrooms.
The Evaluation will continue to engage with the education profession in sharing ongoing project findings as it tracks the implementation of the Standards in schools and educational organisations.
The current findings reveal issues and gaps that will be further explored in other Evaluation activities. These include the analysis of national case studies and the recently completed 2015 National Survey.
This project was funded by AITSL with funding provided by the Australian Government. For information on the Evaluation, visit: http://www.aitsl.edu.au/research-and-evaluation/evaluation-of-the-standards or email APSTevaluation@aitsl.edu.au.
Subject HeadingsTeaching profession
Teaching and learning