In 2014, there were over 450 initial teacher education (ITE) programmes in Australia delivered by 48 teacher education institutions. In 2017, there were 373 accredited ITE programmes provided by 48 teacher education institutions in 85 rural and urban locations across Australia (Table 1) (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2017).
Figure 1. Location of initial teacher education programs in Australia’s states and territories, by type of campus (2017)
In Australia, teacher education institutions must comply with regulations and standards at two levels: first, as part of a broader quality assurance system that applies to all higher education institutions and second, as part of a nationally consistent accreditation system specific to ITE programmes. These two levels encompass a range of quality assurance activities, such as programme reaccreditation, annual reporting, audits and internal quality processes (Australian Council for Educational Research, 2016).
In 2011, the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), in collaboration with key stakeholders, including the Australasian Teacher Regulatory Authorities (ATRA), developed the first standards and procedures for accreditation of ITE programmes. Using this model, from 2013, ITE providers submitted to the relevant state or territory authority an application for accreditation of ITE programmes based on programme outlines and information to demonstrate how the proposed programmes met the relevant accreditation standards, including how teacher candidates would achieve the stage of “Graduate” of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. This application was then assessed by a panel, some modifications were made to the proposed programme and a recommendation provided to the relevant authority as to whether to accredit the ITE programme or not. Generally in the past, few applications were not approved.
However, there remained concern about the variability of ITE programme quality, which risked undermining the quality of teaching. In addition, due to transition arrangements, there was a risk that the changes introduced in the 2013 standards and procedures would take too long to have an impact on the quality of programmes.
In 2015, the Teacher Educational Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG), in its review on initial teacher preparation in Australia, recommended an “overhauled national accreditation process for ITE programmes administered by a national regulator and full programme accreditation contingent upon robust evidence of successful graduate outcomes against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers” (Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership and University of Melbourne, 2016). It found that applications for accreditation did not require rigorous assessment of evidence to support programme design and the outcomes expected of graduates and noted that stakeholders called for greater rigour, transparency and consistency in the accreditation process action (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2015; Teacher Educational Ministerial Advisory Group, 2015)
Following the response of the Australian government to TEMAG’s recommendations, in 2015, education ministers in Australia’s eight states and territories agreed to new accreditation standards for initial teacher education (ITE) programmes (Australian Government, 2015). The elements of the new arrangements are set out in the standards and procedures document issued in December 2015 (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2015). The new standards and procedures are designed to ensure that all graduates of ITE programmes meet the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers at the Graduate career stage. This is the foundation of the accreditation process (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2016). The Graduate Teacher Standards, the Programme Standards and the Accreditation Procedures comprise the accreditation system that all states and territories must adopt.
A key focus of the new standards is on the assessment of the impact of the programmes. This is intended to be evidenced in two ways: evidence that is collected from within a programme in relation to a pre-service teacher’s performance, and evidence of graduate outcomes, that is, evidence that is collected following completion of a programme in relation to the achievements of a programme’s graduates. Eight principles inform the design of the new standards and procedures:
The accreditation system comprises two accreditation stages and also incorporates annual reporting.
Accredited programmes are to report annually to their authority on:
The Programme Standards set out specific requirements with respect to:
A key element of evidence of impact in relation to a teacher candidates’ performance is the requirement for providers to include within their programmes assessment of classroom teaching performance across a sequence of lessons that reflects the range of teaching practice. All teacher candidates must undertake and reach the required standard on this assessment to graduate.
As in the past, panels will continue to review applications for accreditation. However every panel member and chair is required to undertake national training – and to complete a national refresher training every two years. This training is designed to equip panellists to make assessments against the standards, including evidence in relation to demonstration of programme impact and the Graduate standard. Each panel is required to have a member from outside the accrediting jurisdiction to promote national consistency in decision making (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2016).
The OECD team in its review of Australia from 22-26 May 2017 noted the opportunities that new accreditation standards and procedures provide regarding:
There are a number of areas where further improvement could be made or some caution is required:
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.
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