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How the standards are organised

The Australian professional standards for teachers (the standards) contain 7 standards, and 37 standard descriptors. These outline what teachers should know and what they should be able to do at each of the 4 teaching career stages: 37 standard descriptors x 4 career stages = 148 descriptions in total.

The Australian professional standards for teachers document describes the knowledge, skills and understanding expected of competent and effective teachers. Its framework makes clear the knowledge, practice and engagement required across teachers’ careers.

The standards document uses specific terminology to describe the structure and organisation of the standards and to provide a common language for the profession and the public to talk about teaching practice.

The 7 standards

The 7 standards that apply across each of the career stages - graduate, proficient, highly accomplished and lead teacher - are:

  1. Know students and how they learn
  2. Know the content and how to teach it
  3. Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
  4. Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
  5. Assess, provide feedback, and report on student learning
  6. Engage in professional learning
  7. Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/ carers and the community.

Teaching domains

The 7 standards are grouped into 3 teaching domains:

  • professional knowledge - standards 1 and 2
  • professional practice - standards 3, 4 and 5
  • professional engagement - standards 6 and 7.

Career stage

There are 4 career stages that span across the 7 standards:

  • graduate teacher
  • proficient teacher
  • highly accomplished teacher
  • lead teacher.

In practice, teaching draws on a mix of standards and teaching domains. The standards are interconnected, interdependent and overlapping.

Figure 1: Standards, domains and career stages
Figure 1: Standards, domains and career stages

Focus areas and standard descriptors

Each standard has several focus areas which define the components of quality teaching knowledge, practice and professional engagement.

These are then separated into 'standard descriptors' at the 4 career stages. The focus areas and standard descriptors identify the components of quality teaching at each career stage. They constitute agreed characteristics of the complex process of teaching.

Each element of the standards framework; domains, standards, career stages, focus areas and standard descriptors are displayed in an integrated way.

Figure 2: Focus areas and standard descriptors
Figure 2: Focus areas and standard descriptors

Standard descriptors and numbering

The standards have 37 standard descriptors for each career stage. Each standard descriptor is comprised of 3 numbers, such as 3.2.1, where:

  1. the first number is the standard - for example, it is standard 3 in 3.2.1
  2. the second number is the focus area - for example, it is focus area 2 in 3.2.1
  3. the third number is the career stage - for example, it is career stage 1 in 3.2.1.
Figure 3: Standard descriptor numbering
Figure 3: Standard descriptor numbering

Standard descriptor progression

The focus area and progression of standard descriptors across each career stage shows a teacher's evolving level of knowledge, practice and professional engagement. Teachers are expected to apply their evolving skills and knowledge with increasing sophistication, and in a broader range of more complex situations, throughout their careers.

The following example tracks the progression of standard descriptors 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 3.2.3 and 3.2.4.

The first number denotes standard 3 which is 'plan for and implement effective teaching and learning'. The second number denotes the focus area 2 which is 'plan, structure and sequence learning programs'. The third number is the career stage: 1 (graduate), 2 (proficient), 3 (highly accomplished) and 4 (lead):

  • 3.2.1, at the graduate teacher stage, the focus is on planning lesson sequences
  • 3.2.2, at the proficient teacher stage, the focus is on implementing well-structured lesson sequences
  • 3.2.3, at the highly accomplished teacher stage, the focus is on planning, evaluating and modifying learning and teaching programs with colleagues
  • 3.2.4, at the lead teacher stage, the focus is on exhibiting exemplary practice in the planning, implementation and review of teaching programs and then leading colleagues in these processes.
Figure 4: Progression of standard descriptors
Figure 4: Progression of standard descriptors

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