Impacting on debates about teacher education: the development and trial of the national Assessment for Graduate Teaching

International research showing that teachers have the greatest impact on student learning (Hattie, 2009) has led to a policy and research focus on teacher quality. Faced with declining student rankings in comparative international assessments (such as PISA, NAPLAN and other results), governments have turned attention to Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs, questioning their relevance, effectiveness and utility (Darling Hammond, 2005). This has resulted in a series of ongoing reviews of Initial Teacher Education (e.g. Caldwell & Sutton, 2010; TEMAG, 2014), which have policy implications for national professional standards and the accreditation of programs. A key policy mechanism for improving initial teacher education has been to require ITE providers to demonstrate in their courses evidence of their impact on school student learning. To this end, in 2015, the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) revised the National Program Accreditation Standards to require ITE providers to include a final Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA), as evidence of pre-service teachers to meet the Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers. In 2016, AITSL invited expressions of interest from consortia of ITE providers to design and trial a TPA that could be used nationally.

Teaching is a complex activity, which relies on the application of multiple kinds of knowledge and skills, all of which are accumulated and practised over the period of the pre-service teacher's (PST's) Initial Teacher Education program. The contexts of PST preparation differ between undergraduate and postgraduate courses, the stages of schooling and modes of delivery. This symposium reports on the development and validation of the Assessment for Graduate Teaching (AfGT), a TPA tool designed to capture the sophisticated intellectual work of teaching and enable pre-service teachers to demonstrate the various ways in which they can meet the Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers. The AfGT has been developed by a consortium comprising ten universities across three Australian States and two Territories.

Papers in this seminar will address: 1) the collaborative and collegial processes undertaken within the AfGT Consortium to develop the tool, 2) the analysis of key literature and principles that informed the design of the AfGT, 3) an explanation of the rationale governing the design elements of the AfGT, and 4) a review of the validation and moderation processes utilised to assess the feasibility and reliability of the tool across diverse contexts and jurisdictions.