Teachers to face annual review of performance

EVERY school teacher faces an annual performance review with education ministers set today to approve a national framework for assessments to begin next year.

The actual form of the review will be left to individual schools and school systems but the ministers will commit to begin the process of reviewing the work of the country's 290,000 teachers.

Reviews will be led by the principal, a senior teacher or an outsider could be brought in. They are expected to include observation of classroom performance, student results and feedback from both parents and students.

The federal Education Minister, Peter Garrett, said the performance reviews were a ''genuinely big and important reform''.

''Every teacher, every year in Australia will have an annual performance review and there will be ongoing professional development support throughout their careers,'' he said. ''That's a huge step forward because we will be able to get continuous development and, if we have underperforming teachers, they will get the help they need to improve.''

The reviews form part of the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework, which has been developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.

Mr Garrett said the reviews would allow the ''many terrific teachers'' to demonstrate their high performance, while ''also providing opportunities to improve their skills where needed''. Teachers will be given a set of documented, measurable and specific goals that will be agreed with their school principal or a delegate. Teachers will be able to collect evidence that they are achieving their objectives.

The meeting will also receive an update of plans being considered by the Australian Curriculum, Reporting and Assessment Authority to begin moving the annual NAPLAN tests to an online format that would enable cheaper marking and much faster results.

Ministers are also expected to endorse the Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders, which sets out a national approach to professional development. Mr Garrett said the aim was to embed a culture of continuous improvement within teaching.

The ministers will also be asked to reaffirm their support for new standards for teacher training, including a minimum of two years of post-graduate training, to begin in 2015.

Mr Garrett is moving to regain leadership of the debate over teaching quality. The NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, this week released a discussion paper that seeks substantial reform of the way teachers are trained, supported in the job and managed out of it to lift quality and improve learning outcomes.

Victoria has embarked on a review and Queensland is planning to start another drive to lift teaching quality.

''I'll be making it very clear to state education ministers that I really welcome a focus on teacher quality by this council,'' Mr Garrett said. ''But I do want to be very clear that any future areas of reform in improving teacher quality need to be a shared national goal, built on the framework that we've already put in place. It's crucial that jurisdictions don't stray away from the nationally agreed path and start pulling in different directions.''

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