Accomplished teachers are worth their weight in gold, but if the profession is to be valued appropriately it must develop standards and a system for self-evaluation, as Lawrence Ingvarson explains.
The hallmark of a profession is that it can not only define high standards and good practice, but also has reliable methods for identifying and recognising members who have attained those standards.
The teaching profession draws on a complex blend of intellectual, technical, professional and personal capabilities, yet there are no publicly credible and professionally acceptable standards to measure these skills.
How do we best develop rigorous methods for identifying teachers who attain high standards?
Work undertaken by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) on the use of portfolios is showing promise in answering that question.
The purpose of the ACER Portfolio Project is to develop valid and reliable methods by which teachers can demonstrate how they meet the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) at the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher levels, as defined by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.
To date ACER has developed four portfolio tasks for primary generalist and secondary science teachers. When completed the tasks become entries into a teacher’s professional portfolio and together provide evidence covering all of the APST standards.
Each portfolio task provides a clear structure and scaffolding that greatly assists teachers to gather evidence about their teaching and analyse and reflect on that evidence.
Now at the stage of field testing, ACER is inviting primary generalist and secondary science teachers to complete one of the four portfolio tasks in their specialist field.
At the primary level, the portfolio tasks address teaching to develop students’ capacities in writing for a range of audiences and purposes; teaching to develop students’ knowledge and conceptual understanding of important mathematics content; teaching to develop students’ inquiry skills and conceptual understanding; and collegial initiatives to improve teaching practice and learning opportunities for students.
At the secondary science level, the portfolio tasks address teaching to develop students’ conceptual understanding in science; teaching science through whole-class discussion; developing students’ skills in science inquiry; and collegial initiatives to improve teaching and learning in science.
Teachers who assist in the pilot will gain professional development, add validated evidence for their resume, achieve recognition and contribute to strengthening teaching as a profession.
ACER will use the portfolio entries from the field test to develop benchmarks and as a basis for developing a comprehensive and reliable system for training teachers as assessors.
Expressions of interest are welcome from any teacher, or groups of teachers, in any school in Australia before 31 July 2015. ■
Find out more:
For further information about the ACER Portfolio Project or to register your interest visit < http://portfolio.acer.edu.au >