An innovative model for teacher certification and professional advancement

Year: 2021

Author: Brown, Bernard, Nethsinghe, Rohan

Type of paper: Individual Paper

In the Australian context, there is little research and scholarly literature about teacher certification. While some literature linking teacher standards and teacher quality to certification processes is extant, it is sparse and dated. This presentation reports on findings from a 2020-21 University of Canberra research project, investigating a pilot certification model for teachers. Our study offers insights into how teacher certification can be made more accessible, attractive and professionally useful. These findings can inform the design of certification programs in other states and territories in Australia. In our project, we investigated a certification model called the ‘2.0 Modular Model’ , developed for teachers completing the Highly Accomplished and Lead teacher certification levels. The certification model is aligned to the AITSL Professional Standards for teachers and was commissioned by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Teacher Quality Institute (TQI). Our project involved surveying teacher participants from Canberra primary and secondary schools, drawn from public and independent school sectors. Both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies were used to collect the data. Classroom teachers completed an electronic survey and online semi-structured interviews, while school principals and TQI staff members were also interviewed. In addition, focus group interviews were conducted with the certification assessors.Our primary research question was: does the modular approach achieve the objectives of making certification more attractive, sustainable, scalable and developmental? In addition to this question, our objectives were to evaluate the effectiveness of the Certification 2.0 Modular Model (CMM 2.0) and to explore if the model made teacher certification more achievable and meaningful, while still maintaining the rigour and credibility of existing certification standards. Our study identified several limitations and weaknesses in the model in relation to structure and processes. Responses from teacher participants to CMM 2.0 were largely favourable. However, teachers raised concerns about the implementation, workload, assessment and financial aspects of the model. Similar reservations were offered by the assessors, principals and the TQI staff interviewed.  Based on the results of this research, we offer several recommendations to make the model more attractive, sustainable and scalable.