by STEPHEN MATCHETT
A decade back the Commonwealth adopted a plan to retain quality teachers through an accreditation scheme – which went nowhere.
There are now 1,200 teachers who are Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers (HALTs)- 3 per cent of the total workforce.
Now Ministers want to have another go. Lawrence Ingvarson and Hilary Hollingsworth explain what went wrong last time and what to do now, in a new paper for the Australian Council for Educational Research.
They cite a goal of 10,000 HALTs by 2025 and aim for certification to become a normal part of a career.
“Over recent years, reviews of teacher quality have focused too much on blaming teacher education when its problems have largely stemmed from its inability to compete with other professions for high-quality graduates,” they argue.
So what went wrong with the previous pathway for elite teachers until now?
Ingvarson and Hollingsworth point to operational issues, including easier ways to be promoted and few rewards in enterprise agreements. And school systems did not address command issues – where HALT teachers sit in the hierarchy.
The authors are silent on the subject, but union antipathy to performance pay may have had something to do with all of them.
They also detail deficiencies in the HALT process itself – notably applicants having to gather evidence for 27 standards, which made it costly and time-consuming to apply.
But it is worth fixing; “A rigorous and well-rewarded certification system will replace old assumptions about what it means to have a career in teaching. Moving on no longer necessarily means moving away from teaching into executive positions … Certification celebrates and rewards what matters most in student learning; what good teachers know, do and care about,” they write.
To make it happen they set out in detail what is necessary to get HALT moving, in three big areas:
- an assessment framework that sets out what applicants must provide;
- clarity on what will applicants need to demonstrate and assessors consider; and
- guidance on evidence.
“This approach points the way to a more credible, economically affordable, administratively feasible and legally defensible certification system, all major long-term considerations if a certification system is to ‘go to scale’ and fulfil its potential.”