The strong link between teacher quality and student learning outcomes calls for effective systems of teacher accountability. School systems in all Australian states have established policies and practices to raise levels of teacher accountability, but it remains doubtful whether they have the capacity to deliver on teacher quality assurance or improvement in teachers' practice. This paper reports some of the recent findings of an ARC funded project that mapped teacher evaluation practices across all Australian states and territories. After providing a brief historical overview of teacher evaluation in Australia, it discusses three recent initiatives at the 'accomplished teacher' level; namely evaluations for the Victorian Experienced Teacher With Responsibility (ETWR); the Western Australian Level 3 Classroom Teacher position (L3); the UK 'Threshold' classification; and recent state developments in evaluation for teacher registration. The paper uses 'loose coupling' theory to interpret the limitations of these schemes. It argues that the two main purposes of teacher evaluation, assuring teacher quality and facilitating improvement in teachers' work, will best be achieved when teachers and their organizations claim the responsibility for developing and implementing methods for assessing teacher performance that respect the complexity and depth of their professional knowledge and practice. The paper concludes with an overview of the recent moves in Australia to establish a profession-run certification system to provide recognition and incentives for evidence of professional development, based on methods that do justice to the nature of teachers' work.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/elizabeth_kleinhenz/34/