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An electronic journal for leaders in education
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Evaluation of the Implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

"We are on the cusp of a new era of national teacher professionalism and the Standards and their application are integral to that development."
– Professor Stephen Dinham, The University of Melbourne

A recent report provides a picture of how national teacher standards are being used in Australia, and suggests that they are starting to influence teaching practices and student learning. The report is titled Evaluation of the Implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Interim Report on Baseline Implementation 2013 Key Findings. It was released in March this year by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and The University of Melbourne.

Teacher professional standards provide clarity and focus for what teachers need to know and be able to do in order to deliver high quality teaching and learning. World-class education systems have considered teacher professional standards as a policy mechanism to raise the status of the teaching profession by guiding teacher preparation, developing and retaining exemplary practitioners, and providing a framework for professional growth and development. Although schools and educational organisations in Australia have been using teacher standards as a framework for a variety of initiatives such as teacher performance and development, registration and certification, these standards have differed across jurisdictions.

Successive reforms in recent years have focused on improving the quality and consistency of teachers’ practice. Central to these national reforms is the development and implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the Standards). The Standards map the expected professional knowledge, practice and engagement of teachers at varying stages of their careers (Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead). Implementation of the Australian Standards is now being undertaken in every jurisdiction.

The Evaluation

AITSL, in collaboration with the Centre for Program Evaluation (CPE) of The University of Melbourne are conducting the Evaluation of the Implementation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the Evaluation). The purpose of the Evaluation is to assess the usefulness, effectiveness and impact of the implementation of the Standards on teacher quality. It brings together stakeholders from the education profession – teachers, school leaders, pre-service teachers and teacher educators, as well as system leaders and policy makers. The Evaluation will explore a range of perspectives to build understandings regarding the profession's knowledge of, use and attitudes toward the Standards.

"The success, or not, of the Standards influencing teacher quality will be largely a function of the success of their implementation."
– Professor John Hattie, The University of Melbourne

The Interim Report on Baseline Implementation 2013 Key Findings provides the initial analysis and interim baseline findings from the first year of data collection.

In 2013, two major evaluation activities were conducted to assess baseline implementation of the Standards.

The National Forum (June–July 2013) involved 174 participants including policy advisors, high level members of key organisations and education associations, school leaders and practising teachers. The purpose of the Forum was to explore stakeholders' perceptions of the Standards at a national level, including:

  • success factors for effective implementation
  • key implementation activities
  • enablers and challenges for implementation.

The National Survey (October–November 2013) was designed to investigate stakeholders' perceptions of their knowledge of, use of and attitudes towards the Standards. Over 6,000 educational professionals nation-wide participated in the Survey, including teachers, school leaders, pre-service teachers and teacher educators. Nearly 70% of the Survey respondents are working as teachers.

Initial analysis & findings

Knowledge of the Standards

Overall, 70% of the survey respondents reported that they had some knowledge of the Standards. Stakeholders' knowledge of the Standards is encouraging given the early stages of implementation. This is important, as knowledge of Standards was identified at the National Forum as a top success factor for effective implementation.

Engagement and Use of the Standards

Frequency of use: 61% of respondents reported that they have engaged with the Standards.

Engagement: Stakeholders use the Standards across a range of activities in their practice. Findings show that they most regularly engage with the Standards to develop the quality of their own teaching, or the teaching of others.

Opportunity to use: 74% of the stakeholders agree that they will have an opportunity to use the Standards in the next six months.

Attitudes toward the Standards and Intentions to Use

Stakeholders were generally positive about the Standards. On average, 82% of the stakeholders expressed positive attitudes towards the Standards. This is encouraging given that positive attitudes are critical for leading and sustaining implementation practices.

The report further expands upon the knowledge of, engagement with and attitudes towards the Standards of each of the stakeholder groups – teachers, school leaders, teacher educators and pre-service teachers.


Initial analysis of the baseline implementation of the Standards reveals that there is a broad knowledge of and engagement with the Standards. These findings are encouraging given the early stage of implementation. Importantly, this suggests that the Standards are starting to be used in ways that may influence teaching practices and student learning.

The next major Evaluation activity will be the 2014 Case Studies. The purpose of the case studies is to explore effective implementation practices in a range of educational settings across Australia. To get involved as a Case Study site visit http://www.aitsl.edu.au/research-and-evaluation/case-studies. Participation can be as an individual site or a consortium. It will involve approximately two days onsite between May and September 2014. Expressions of interest will be accepted between 31 March and 9 May. 

AITSL Standards Evaluation

"Understanding the complexity of action around achieving behaviour change for implementation of the Standards is critical and needs to continue to be explored throughout the Evaluation."

– Associate Professor Janet Clinton, The University of Melbourne

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/case-studies or email APSTevaluation@aitsl.edu.au


Subject Headings

Teaching profession
Teaching and learning
Educational planning
Educational evaluation