The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 425–443 | Cite as

Authentically assessing graduate teaching: outside and beyond neo-liberal constructs



In this paper, we challenge the current focus on ‘best practice’, graduate teacher tests, and student test scores as the panacea for ensuring teaching quality and argue for ways of thinking about evidence of quality beginning teaching outside and beyond the current neoliberal accountability discourses circulating in Australia and other countries. We suggest that teacher educators need to reinsert themselves as key players in the debates around quality beginning teaching, rather than being viewed as a source of the problem. To enable teacher educators to assume accountability for quality beginning teachers, we propose the framework of a capstone teacher performance assessment—a structured portfolio called the Authentic Teacher Assessment (ATA)—and examine examples of these assessments through the lens of critical discourse analysis. As a measure of ‘readiness to teach’, the ATA is compared with supervising teachers’ assessments of preservice teachers. We argue that structured portfolios that include artefacts derived from preservice teachers’ practice in classrooms along with graduate teacher self assessments provide a stronger accountability measure of effective beginning teaching and demonstrably address the current anxiety regarding ‘evidence’. We suggest that such an approach should be reliable enough to be ‘read’ by external assessors (and moderated across other teacher education institutions). Rigorous research on a national basis is called for in order to develop and implement a structured portfolio as rich evidence of graduates’ quality and readiness to teach.


Authentic teacher assessment Capstone assessment Graduate teaching professional standards Initial teacher education Quality teaching 


  1. Allard, A., & Santoro, N. (2008). Experienced teachers’ perspectives on cultural and social class diversity: Which differences matter? Equity and Excellence in Education, 41(2), 200–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership. (2011a). Accreditation of initial teacher education programs in Australia: Standards and Procedures. Carlton, Victoria: Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA).Google Scholar
  3. Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership. (2011b). National Professional Standard for Principals. Carlton, VIC: Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA).Google Scholar
  4. Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership. (2011c). National Professional Standards for Teachers. Carlton, VIC: Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA).Google Scholar
  5. Bullough, R. V, Jr. (2012). Against best practice: uncertainty, outliers and local studies in educational research. Journal of Education for Teaching, 38(3), 343–357.Google Scholar
  6. Cochran-Smith, M., & Fries, M. (2005). Researching teacher education in changing times: Politics and paradigms. In M. Cochran-Smith & K. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  7. Connell, R. W. (2009). Good teachers on dangerous ground: towards a new view of teacher quality and professionalism. Critical Studies in Education, 50(3), 213–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Courneya, C., Pratt, D., & Collins, J. (2008). Through what perspective do we judge the teaching of peers? Perspectives on teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 69–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Darling-Hammond, L. (2006). Assessing teacher education: The usefulness of multiple measures for assessing teacher outcomes. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(2), 120–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Darling-Hammond, L. (2013). Getting teacher evaluation right: What really matters for effectiveness and improvement. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  11. Darling-Hammond, L., & Snyder, J. (2000). Authentic assessment of teaching in context. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16(5–6), 523–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deakin University. (2012). Deakin authentic teacher assessment (ATA) handbook: Master of Teaching EPR 703 reflecting on practice in professional experience. Burwood: Faculty of Arts and Education, School of Education.Google Scholar
  13. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. (2012). New directions for school leadership and the teaching profession. Melbourne VIC: Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD).Google Scholar
  14. Dixon, M., Mayer, D., Gallant, A., & Allard, A. (2011). Authentically assessing beginning teaching: Professional standards and teacher performance assessment. A project funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Education and the Victorian Institute of Teaching.Google Scholar
  15. Fairclough, N. (2000). Language and Neo-liberalism. Discourse and Society, 11(7), 147–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fairclough, N., & Wodak, R. (1997). Critical discourse analysis. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse studies: A multidisciplinary introduction. Discourse as social interaction (Vol. 2). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  17. Graham, P., & Luke, A. (2013). Critical discourse analysis and political economy of communication: Understanding the new corporate order. In R. Wodak (Ed.), Critical discourse analysis: Concepts, history, theory (pp. 103–130). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  18. Kennedy, A., & Doherty, R. (2012). Professionalism and partnership: Panaceas for teacher education in Scotland? Journal of Education Policy,. doi:10.1080/02680939.2012.682609.Google Scholar
  19. Larsen, M. (2010). Troubling the discourse of teacher centrality: a comparative perspective. Journal of Education Policy, 25(2), 207–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Louden, W. (2008). 101 Damnations: the persistence of criticism and the absence of evidence about teacher education in Australia. Teachers and teaching: Theory and practice, 14(4), 357–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. MacLure, M. (2003). Discourse in educational and social research. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD). (2005). Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Final report—Teachers matter. Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  23. Pecheone, R., & Chung, R. (2006). Evidence in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(1), 22–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sim, C., Freiberg, J., White, S., Allard, A., Le Cornu, R., & Carter, B. (2012). Using professional standards: Assessing work integrated learning in initial teacher education. Retrieved from Accessed 29 Jan 2013.
  25. St. Maurice, H., & Shaw, P. (2004). Teacher portfolios come of age: A Preliminary Study. NAASP Bulletin, 88, 15–25.Google Scholar
  26. The State of Queensland (Queensland College of Teachers). (2012). An investigation of best practice in evidence-based assessment within preservice teacher education programs and other professions. Brisbane: Queensland College of Teachers.Google Scholar
  27. Townsend, T., & Bates, R. (Eds.). (2007). Handbook of teacher education: Globalization, standards and professionalism in times of change. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  28. Tuinamuana, K. (2011). Teacher professional standards, accountability, and ideology: Alternative Discourses. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(12). Article 6.Google Scholar
  29. Victorian Institute of Teaching. (2007). Preparing future teachers: The standards, guidelines and process for the accreditation of pre-service teacher education courses. Melbourne, Vic: Victorian Institute of Teaching.Google Scholar
  30. Wiseman, D. (2012). The intersection of policy, reform, and teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(2), 87–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zeichner, K. (2010). Rethinking the connections between campus courses and field experiences in college- and University-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1–2), 89–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  2. 2.Victoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations