Advanced Skills Teachers: Dilemmas and demands

Year: 1994

Author: Weppler, Margaret, Bourke, Sid

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The classification of Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) has been established in Australian schools during the last five years. Although there has been variation in terms of eligibility, salary and professional status across different States and education systems throughout the country, the basic notion of an AST is similar-a classroom teacher with superior teaching skills.

This paper focuses on the classification of AST within the NSW Department of School Education, and addresses questions regarding the teaching effectiveness of classroom teachers selected and appointed as AST's. What motivates classroom teachers to apply/not apply for AST status? What reasons are perceived as affecting application outcomes? How have AST's in schools affected teacher efficiency, student outcomes and overall school effectiveness? Would classroom teachers apply/reapply for AST status in the future?

Information was gained from over 400 AST's and classroom teachers in the New South Wales Department of School Education in the Hunter Region. In 1992 and 1993, teachers completed an attitude survey which questioned their opinions about the AST selection process, their involvement in AST selection and their perceptions of effects of AST's in schools. Results indicated mixed feelings among teachers concerning the effects (both positive and negative) of AST's in schools in terms of teacher efficiency, student outcomes and overall school effectiveness. The notion of AST's as classroom teachers with superior teaching skills appeared to be overshadowed by perceived problems concerning AST eligibility, AST selection and appointment, the roles and responsibilities assigned to AST's and the overall accountability of AST's in schools.