The term “professional teaching standards” in the context of initial teacher education (ITE) is commonly used to describe what teachers should know and be able to do, including a desirable level of performance (Révai and Guerriero, 2017). Kleinhenz and Ingvarson (2002) conceptualised the use of standards in two ways:
But teaching standards are not the “magic bullet’ for teaching quality (Darling-Hammond, 1999). In the pursuit of the ultimate goal of using teaching standards to improve teacher quality and in an effort to nuance the “one size fits all” static perception of teaching standards (Sachs, 2003), the complex processes of co-constructing, monitoring and evaluating professional teaching standards – and the mechanisms for embedding standards within other policy frameworks such as ITE programmes and accreditation of ITE programmes – merit closer examination. A recent OECD working paper, which explores the intricate interplay between professional standards for teachers, the content of teacher education and educational sciences, notes the importance of “…monitoring and understanding the revision and renegotiation process of national standards, and analysing the change of both standards and teacher education curriculum over time to reveal whether they constructively influence each other towards: 1) a more integrated conception of professional knowledge and 2) raising teacher quality.” (Revai, forthcoming).
In Australia, the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Teaching Standards) were conceived as both a measure and a set of values to which it was hoped that all states and territories would agree. The Teaching Standards were endorsed by state and territory education ministers in 2011 (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2014) following an intensive consultation period, and subsequently reviewed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), in collaboration with the Centre for Programme Evaluation at Melbourne University and their partner, the Australian College of Educators between 2013 and 2015 (Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership and University of Melbourne, 2016). Developed and implemented by AITSL, the validation process for the Teaching Standards descriptors involved almost 6 000 teachers.
The Teaching Standards provide descriptors of four career stages for teachers – Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead – each representing increasing levels of knowledge, practice and professional engagement for teachers, in line with the Australian curriculum standards. Descriptors are intended to provide benchmarks that recognise the professional growth of teachers throughout their careers. The Teaching Standards describe six national programme standards related to programme outcomes, programme development, design and delivery, programme entry, programme structure and content, professional experience, and programme evaluation, reporting and improvement. They also describe the seven teaching standards at the “Graduate” level:
The Teaching Standards present a two-stage process for teachers to attain full registration in Australia:
Source: Government of South Australia, Department for Education and Child Development (2017), Mentor Companion, Early Career Teacher Development Programme, Government of South Australia, Adelaide.
The Teaching Standards are also embedded in both stages of the new accreditation of initial teacher education (ITE) programmes in Australia: for new programmes (Stage 1) and continuing programmes (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2016). For new ITE programmes (Stage 1), for example, ITE providers must submit evidence against the programme standards; map where in the programme the Graduate Teaching Standards are taught, practised and assessed; and a plan for demonstrating impact (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2014).
An evaluation of the usefulness, effectiveness and impact of the Teaching Standards by the Centre for Programme Evaluation at Melbourne University and their partner, the Australian College of Educators, with AITSL, between 2013 and 2015, found widespread acceptance and use of the Teaching Standards at the federal, state and school levels, especially by teacher educators. Their use generally involves mandatory requirements such as registration and certification, but examples for more extended use, such as professional development and teacher self-reflection, were also found in some cases (Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership and University of Melbourne, 2016). A more recent study found positive attitudes towards the Teaching Standards by both teachers and school principals, which could be attributed to teacher ownership over the standards and their implementation (Adoniou and Gallagher, 2017).
The OECD review team in its review of Australia from 22-26 May 2017 concluded that the Teaching Standards are a strength in that:
However, the OECD review team also noted that:
Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership and University of Melbourne (2016), Final Report – Evaluation of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, AITSL and University of Melbourne, Melbourne. 
Darling-Hammond, L. (1999), Reshaping Teaching Policy, Preparation, and Practice. Influences of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, AACTE Publications, Washington, D.C.. 
Government of South Australia, Department for Education and Child Development (2017), Mentor Companion, Early Career Teacher Development Programme, Government of South Australia, Adelaide. 
Revai, N. (forthcoming), “What difference do standards make to educating teachers? A review with case studies on Australia, Estonia and Singapore”, OECD Education Working Papers, OECD Publishing, Paris. 
Révai, N. and S. Guerriero (2017), “Knowledge dynamics in the teaching profession”, in Guerriero, S. (ed.), Pedagogical Knowledge and the Changing Nature of the Teaching Profession, OECD Publishing, Paris. 
This case study describes a “promising practice” drawn from an OECD review of initial teacher preparation in Australia from 22-26 May 2017.
The OECD Review Team – Hannah von Ahlefeld (OECD), Michael Day (University of Roehampton), Kjetil Helgeland (OECD), Ee Ling Low (Nanyang Technological University), Rob McIntosh (consultant) and Emily Rainey (University of Pittsburgh) – identified a number of “promising practices” in each country. These practices may not be widespread or representative, but seen in the context of other challenges, they represent a strength or opportunity to improve the country’s initial teacher preparation system – and for other countries to learn from them.
This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of OECD member countries.
This document and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.
You can copy, download or print OECD content for your own use, and you can include excerpts from OECD publications, databases and multimedia products in your own documents, presentations, blogs, websites and teaching materials, provided that suitable acknowledgement of OECD as source and copyright owner is given. All requests for public or commercial use and translation rights should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Requests for permission to photocopy portions of this material for public or commercial use shall be addressed directly to the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) at email@example.com or the Centre français d’exploitation du droit de copie (CFC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.