Partnerships between universities and schools provide effective support for pre-service teachers. Glenn Rowley explains why.
An ACER evaluation of the School Centres for Teaching Excellence (SCTE) program of the Victorian Department of Education and Training, funded through the Smarter Schools National Partnership on Improving Teacher Quality, has investigated the impact of partnerships between universities and schools. Partnerships between universities and schools in the SCTE program have been specifically designed to establish leading practice in providing quality pre-service teacher education, continuing professional learning and research opportunities.
The evaluation addressed the impact of SCTE programs involving 65 government schools, six universities and more than 1000 pre-service teachers.
According to the evaluation report, School-university partnerships in initial teacher preparation: An Evaluation of the School Centres for Teaching Excellence Initiative in Victoria, case studies indicate that SCTE programs:
- enhance and strengthen existing partnerships between groups of schools and university providers of teacher education
- enable the formation of new partnerships, particularly formal partnerships between teacher education providers and schools in situations where previously there has been close but informal relationships
- enhance and strengthen existing site-based or ‘clinical’ models of teacher education, and encourage the development of new ‘clinical’ models of teacher education
- bring about significant change in teacher education curriculum
- enhance and strengthen the delivery of the school curriculum, and
- facilitate more flexible cooperation between universities and schools.
Survey responses from school principals involved in SCTE programs indicate that principals value the closer relationships their schools develop with universities in support of pre-service teachers. Survey responses from mentoring teachers of pre-service teachers involved in SCTE programs further indicate that the program better enables them to provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to experience the daily life of a teacher, and develop the knowledge and skills required of teachers. Mentors reported that SCTE programs enabled them to provide better support to pre-service teachers and to develop ongoing relationships with them, but also reported that the program fosters higher levels of collegial support by pre-service teachers for one another.
To assess graduates’ perceptions of their preparedness, ACER developed the Teacher Education Graduate Survey (TEGS). The items on the TEGS were constructed with the specific purpose of assessing the extent to which graduates rated their teacher preparation program as having enabled them to meet the graduate level of the standards developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). Separate clusters of items addressed each of the seven standards, providing reliable measures that enabled ACER to report on each standard separately, as well as on their preparation as a whole.
Surveyed one to two years after graduation, teachers who had participated in SCTE programs rated their preparation more highly overall, and more highly in relation to each of the seven AITSL standards, than did teachers from the same universities who had not participated in SCTE. In particular, graduates of SCTE programs were more inclined to report that they:
- possessed the necessary knowledge and understanding required of teachers
- had the opportunity to practise classroom skills and other skills beyond the classroom
- possessed the knowledge and skills necessary to face the professional responsibilities of a teacher, and
- felt part of a well-supported school community.
ACER’s research concluded that the underpinning benefits of the SCTE program approach arose because of the close partnerships that develop between universities and schools when pre-service teachers are able to spend extended time in schools.
Following the completion of the evaluation, the Victorian Department of Education and Training moved in 2014 to set up a program to be known as Teaching Academies of Professional Practice, based on the same operating model as the SCTE pilot. There are now 12 such Teaching Academies operating across Victoria. ■
Read the full report:
School-university partnerships in initial teacher preparation: An Evaluation of the School Centres for Teaching Excellence Initiative in Victoria, by Glenn Rowley, Paul Weldon, Elizabeth Kleinhenz and Lawrence Ingvarson.
For more information about the Teacher Education Graduate Survey, please contact Dr Lawrence Ingvarson at ACER.