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Professional Standards

The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers – Graduate

The Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers provide a framework for assessing pre-service teachers’ knowledge and capabilities in both school-based and university-based courses and, as such, complement the work of school-based and university-based teacher educators.

The introduction of the Australian Standards has provided a clear direction for the development of a shared understanding of the expectations of pre-service teachers within three connected domains:


The Standards provide a common basis for planning learning pathways and assessing professional learning and achievement. It provides not only a common set of outcomes but also a common language for talking about and providing formative and summative assessment feedback for pre-service teachers regarding the knowledge and skills they develop during school-based learning. Knowledge and understanding of the Standards should assist in the development of consistency and equity of teaching and assessment of pre-service teachers.

Each Standard statement documents a set of relevant knowledge and skills that can be realised in the various observable and often complex and non-observable knowledge and understanding, practices, products and performances required of teachers. The knowledge, practices, products and performances listed in Standards statements are all interconnected and these statements cannot, therefore, be used as an assessment checklist (Connell, 2009). They are, however, intended to be interpreted consistently such that as a tool for judging professional levels, they do, in fact, represent a Standard.

Understanding the Standards

The Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers are divided into 3 categories:


During the school-based learning segments of their degree programs, pre-service teachers will be assessed against each of the Standards. These assessments, made by school-based teacher educators/assessors, are based on judgements about the quality of the practical performances and products developed for and used in those performances. In the interest of assessment consistency and reliability, it is important to pre-specify an agreed on range of possible practices and/or products that could count as evidence of having achieved each Standard. Consistency in assessing pre-service teachers across all university-partner school sites and all states and territories will be more likely if school-based teacher educators are armed not only with knowledge of the Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers but also with an inventory of possible evidence of the Graduate Standards.

Each Standard targets one aspect within the domains of knowledge, practice or professional engagement. Within each broad domain, each Standard also specifies a number of focal areas that are connected to the overall Standard.

These specifications provide a clear guide for pre-service teachers regarding the areas in which they should concentrate their own learning:

  • what they should know, understand, and try to implement when they are planning, and teaching classroom lessons
  • teaching practices
  • learning activities
  • classroom organisation and management

For university and school-based teacher educators, the foci within each Standard specifies the important areas of knowledge, skills and processes that need to be taught, practised and assessed.

Activity – Understanding the Detailed Specifications of Professional Teacher Standards

Your Task:

Follow the link to Standard 4

Standard 4 Create and maintain safe and supportive learning environments, includes five focus points. Focus 4.1 Support student participation: Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities, provides an elaboration of the words “safe and supportive”. It specifies that a learning environment that is safe and supportive should “support student participation” in learning. It goes on to specify that supporting “student participation” in learning involves the use of teaching and learning strategies that “support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities“.

What Standard 4.1 doesn’t specify, however, are the practices, types of teaching strategies, learning activities, activity sequencing, materials, and classroom organisation and management etc. that will count as having identified “strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities“.

List the strategies you would expect to see used in your classroom by a pre-service teacher during their mid-program placement, a pre-service teacher during their final placement, and a proficient teacher.

Standard 4 Focus 4.1 Support student participation: Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities
Preservice teacher Mid-Program Graduate Standard Proficient Standard

The following sources also illustrate the types of evidence that could be used to assess achievement of this Standard:

The Standards in Practice

The Standards for Graduate Teachers provide a framework that:

  • makes clear the knowledge, practice and professional engagement required at this career stage;
  • presents a common understanding and language;
  • assists graduate teachers and teacher educators to judge the success of their learning and assist self-reflection and self-assessment;
  • can stimulate professional conversations and debate among teachers, teacher educators and other members of the profession; and
  • provides a complementary resource for planning and assessing both university-based and school-based learning components of pre-service teacher education programs

The importance of quality teaching to ensure improved outcomes for students is well documented (e.g. Hattie, 2003). It is important to recognise that the Australian Professional Standards are only one part of a holistic approach to preparing teachers.

The professional experience or placement is a central learning and teaching context in all Australian initial teacher education programs. Accurate assessment of the knowledge and capabilities learned, consolidated and applied by pre-service teachers during these placements is a critical responsibility of the pre-service teachers’ school-based and university-based teacher educators.

Activity – Graduate Professional Standards in Practice

Continuing the process of matching observations with particular Standards

Your Task

View one of these videos

Teachers and pre-service teachers working in primary school contexts

Teachers and pre-service teachers working in secondary school contexts

After watching the video jot down on the following Professional Practice Observation chart, six key observations that you consider could be a basis for judging this pre-service teacher’s professional practice.

Refer to:

  1. Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers: Standards 3, 4, 5.

and to the lists shown in:

  1. Possible Evidence for Judging Achievement – Graduate Standards 3, Graduate Standards 4 and Graduate Standards 5

Professional Practice Observation Chart


The Professional Standards present a Developmental Continuum

The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers are different for teachers at different career stages. Standards are listed for four career stages: Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead teachers. Each of these stages can be viewed on the AITSL website.

By clicking on ‘Standards’ in the top menu you can then choose to ‘View by career stage’.

screenshot of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers website

This allows teachers to see how expectations change at each developmental stage.

The recognition that knowledge and skills develop over time is also important for school-based teacher educators who teach and assess pre-service teachers. Pre-service teachers’ abilities to apply theoretical knowledge in practical contexts will also develop over time and their development capacities and competencies will depend on the learning and practice opportunities afforded to them on their professional experience. The developmental process operates across the stages within one placement and across all placements within their degree programs.

If the Graduate Standards are to be used as a framework for learning and assessment in school-based learning placements, they will need to be adapted according to the stage of the development of the pre-service teacher, that is, whether they are being assessed against the Standards at the end of their first, second or final placement, etc. Further, the impact of different school-based learning contexts and the types of learning experiences the pre-service teacher is exposed to should also shape and limit the particular Standards and/or foci that could be demonstrated and validly assessed on any placement.

To tailor the school-based learning programs for each pre-service teacher’s stage of development, school-based teacher educators may also need better information about what stage in the continuum the pre-service teacher is at in order to consider the most appropriate Standards foci and teaching contexts for that pre-service teacher.

Activity – What elements of practice attached to a Standard may not be observable or assessable?

Your Task:

Consider the following two foci in Graduate Teacher Standard 1: Know students and how they learn

  • Graduate Standard 1.3
    Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds
    Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Graduate Standard 1.4
    Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
    Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Refer to the actions etc. shown in the Possible Evidence for Judging Achievement – Graduate Standard 1 list.

Would it be possible for a pre-service teacher to develop and demonstrate and provide assessable evidence of this knowledge in your classroom context?

How would you vary the learning program you provide for a pre-service teacher and your assessment expectations to make it possible for a pre-service teacher to begin to learn how to achieve all aspects of Standard 1 if any of the following conditions applied:

  • the pre-service teacher was on their first placement
  • the pre-service teacher had not yet completed any courses focused on diversity and catering for diverse learners in the classroom
  • the pre-service teacher was a member of a specified ‘diverse’ group (i.e., from a “diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic background” and/or from an “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background”)
  • none of the students you teach were members of a specified ‘diverse’ group
Reflective Questions

Reflective Questions:

  1. How might you involve pre-service teachers/colleagues in a learning conversation around the Standards?
  2. How do professional experience schools ensure that the Standards are used to support pre-service teachers learning in professional experience? (i.e., used as a learning tool not just an assessment tool)
Key Readings

Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership Ltd (AITSL). 2011. Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Connell, R (2009). Good teachers on dangerous ground: Towards a new view of teacher quality and professionalism., Critical Studies in Education, 50(3), 213-229

Ingvarson, L. C. (2011). Assessing teachers for professional certification: Achieving national consistency. Professional Educator March ed., 10-15.
Available at:

White, S., Bloomfield, D., & Le Cornu, R. (2010). Professional experience in new times: Issues and responses to a changing education landscape. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 38(3), 181-193.