Feds promote professional scrutiny over professional development

The recent announcement by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) of a new framework for teacher performance and development has the potential to further the current federal government’s misguided agenda for teachers and schools.

The AITSL-developed Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework (“the draft framework”) proposes a new regime for annual teacher performance appraisals as a means to “support Australian teachers in their desire to grow and develop and to receive useful feedback on their performance".

Relying on international research that purports to support the quality of teaching as the “most significant in-school factor affecting student outcomes”, the draft framework constructs a process requiring multiple sources of evidence, including significant emphasis on student results (for example, NAPLAN) and direct observation of classroom practice to measure teacher performance.

Most Australian jurisdictions already require annual performance reviews. Indeed, one strong criticism of the draft framework is that it adds little of value to the performance appraisal situation as it currently stands, but will create significant additional work for teachers and school leaders.

An ominous element of the draft framework is the direct link from annual performance reviews to performance management processes. This contrasts with the current Queensland scenario which involves the “Developing Performance Framework”, a carefully negotiated and collaboratively developed process which appropriately prohibits linking performance development to managing underperformance processes.

The AITSL draft framework has twin purposes: teacher performance and teacher development. There is almost no detail on the specific proposals for teacher development, and yet this is clearly an area requiring considerable attention and support by means of the allocation of additional resources to release teachers to participate in collaboratively developed programs of professional learning.

While currently in the consultation phase, the draft framework, if implemented, will do little to advance the status of our profession and much to perpetuate the negative and stereotypical views, started by the Howard government, that underpin the denigration of the teaching profession.

Consultation on the framework is open until July 2012, providing just a short window of opportunity for the teaching profession to provide feedback before another alleged improvement is foisted upon us.

To participate in the consultation and keep control of your profession, visit www.aitsl.edu.au

Kevin Bates
QTU President

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 4, 1 June 2012, p21