Stage 2 Accreditation in Initial Teacher Education: Ecological Perspectives of Policy and Practice

Year: 2017

Author: Fox, Jillian, Alexander, Colette

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Stage 2 accreditation (AITSL, 2016) in initial teacher education (ITE) was introduced to replace reaccreditation (AITSL, 2011). Given the five-year accreditation cycles in ITE, the first institutions to engage in national accreditation are now in 2017 the first to consider the implications of Stage 2 accreditation. This paper investigates the enactment of Stage 2 accreditation at one institution for a graduate entry program. It critiques implications of institute engagement alongside the release of policy and procedures as situated within a layered ecological analysis of context. In doing so, it considers the capacity to manage and inform political change through negotiated practice.
The change from reaccreditation to Stage 2 accreditation represents a significant philosophical, systemic and cultural shift from an input-driven to an output-driven approach to quality assurance and regulation. On one level the initial re-accreditation process required 'evidence that graduates of the program have achieved the Graduate career stage' of the Australian Professional Standards (AITSL, 2011, p.18) but now, the revised AITSL (2015) standards and procedures have sharpened a focus on TEMAG (2014) recommendations that accreditation should be evidence-based (Recommendations 1, 5, 6, 7) and lead towards a reduced regulatory burden through 'light touch' monitoring (Recommendation 9). It represents 'unchartered waters'.
This paper uses narrative inquiry (Connelly & Clandinin, 1988) situated in a matrix of qualitative research to gain insight into the impact of policy change on the enactment of Stage 2 accreditation at one higher education institution. The stories of the participants provide rich data that supports the interrogation of the change process void of the usual procedural or processual advice provided by the regulator. The analysis of the implementation of Stage 2 accreditation has been theoretically framed by Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological conception of development which situates the interaction of development within a layered analysis of context. In this paper, the development of practices that respond to the political imperatives of Stage 2 accreditation is analysed as a developing activity within the macro, meso and micro context of the identified ITE program. In particular, it considers how decision-making about evidence and impact at the macro context of initial teacher education (ITE) influences decision-making at the meso level of program review and the micro level of implementation.