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Advice from MCC

Context

The Moderating and Consistency Committee (MCC), a sub-committee of the Quality Teaching Council (QTC) has been assessing applications for higher level teacher accreditation since 2012 (starting at the previous career stages of Professional Accomplishment and Professional Leadership). 

The assessed applications began with the previous NSW Professional Teaching Standards. However, the advice is of a general nature and applies equally to submissions made against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (see note 2). It does not reference any of the additional requirements for submissions received from 3 April 2015. TAAs (A/L) are advised to refer to the following resources for requirements when assessing applications from that date onwards. 

The presentation of this advice to TAAs (A/L) is based on the process for analysis and discussion of the submissions made to the Committee. It is developed to reflect the key considerations typically addressed by the MCC in its deliberations.

Key Consideration 1:

Does the submission provide evidence for all of the Standards? Are there many Standards for which only one piece of evidence has been provided?

The Committee carefully checks that evidence has been provided for all 46 Standards. There may be a small number of Standards for which only one item of evidence has been provided. In each of these cases, the evidence is checked to ensure that the entirety of the Standard is demonstrated.It would be unlikely for the Committee to view a submission that has a large number of Standards with only one item of evidence to be sufficient.1 In the other cases, the TAA (A/L) made the decision not to accredit without forwarding the submission to the MCC for advice (See note 2). The language of this Advice reflects the NSW Professional Teaching Standards. It is designed to provide feedback to TAAs (A/L) about the processes undertaken by the MCC during its first two years of deliberations.

Key Consideration 2:

Are the required referee statements included? Do they provide evidence of the Standards to which they are attributed?

The Committee considers the range of referees, their ability to attest to the teacher’s practice and the extent to which their statements describe the candidate’s practice in relation to the individual Standards. Referees must include the candidate’s principal (or supervisor), a peer, and a colleague for whom the candidate has provided mentoring, support or guidance. The MCC checks that:

  • each referee statement directly addresses the Standard/s and provides appropriate examples of how the candidate’s practice demonstrates the Standard/s
  • referees have first-hand knowledge of the teacher’s practice
  • the referee statement from the candidate’s principal (or supervisor) is supportive
  • referee evidence adequately covers the overall scope of the candidate’s work
  • referee comments are consistent with the other sources of evidence
  • where identical referee comments are used for more than one Standard, the statement explicitly addresses the Standard in each case

It should be noted that general information provided by referees in the description of the relationship, in addition to that which is required, is disregarded in the MCC’s deliberations. The relationship should be a brief statement of fact, including the referee’s role, the context for the referee’s statement, (such as school, professional association, parent, teacher education student, or university colleague), whether the referee is the candidate’s principal, peer or has been supported by the candidate and for how long the referee has known the candidate.

Key consideration 3:

Did the teacher demonstrate practice at the identified career stage during the External Observation?

The External Observer’s report is viewed as an objective voice in the submission and is carefully reviewed. The Committee:

  • checks that all nominated Standards have been met
  • notes where a Standard has not been met (or has been partially met). This is not necessarily viewed as detracting from overall submission. It may be that the External Observer did not observe the practice by the teacher on the day and there is other evidence for that Standard in the submission
  • looks at the range of observations undertaken. While strong classroom practice is expected in all cases, the opportunity for the External Observer to see the candidate working with and/or leading colleagues strengthens the submission
  • checks the number of Standards addressed in the Report. There is likely to be a discussion where there are many (more than 12) or few (fewer than 6) Standards addressed in the Report because of a potential imbalance in the submission

Key consideration 4:

Have any weaknesses or omissions in the referee and/or External Observation evidence been adequately addressed?

If referee or External Observer statements do not provide evidence that a Standard has been fully met, the Committee will look to other sources of evidence to be certain that the candidate’s submission demonstrates practice for the whole Standard.

Referee statements may be inadequate where a referee writes general comments or does not explicitly provide evidence related to the Standard. This may also occur if the referee misinterprets the Standard.

If the External Observer was unable to observe a nominated Standard on the day, or unable to fully observe it, the Committee checks that alternate documentary or referee evidence is provided to support the Standard.

Key consideration 5:

Is the documentary evidence of good quality? Is it sufficient? Do the annotations adequately explain the documents? Is it supported by the referee and External Observer statements?

While the organisation of the documentary evidence does not directly affect the MCC’s recommendation, a poorly organised submission makes the decision more difficult for the Committee and may reduce the overall quality and sufficiency of the evidence. The Committee therefore recommends that:

  • Documents are:
    • named with consistent file names which reflect the content of the document
    • logically organised and well presented
    • easily identified and easy to follow
    • uploaded only once in the submissiono de-identified to protect the identity of students
  • Annotations:
    • explain the way/s that the document has been used by students, colleagues, parents/carers, and/or community members
    • support the documentation by explaining the link between the candidate’s practice, the document provided and the Standard/s to which it is attributed
    • refer to the evidence by its title to assist in locating evidence items as the submission is read
    • clearly articulate the candidate’s role in relation to the origin and development of each document

Additional advice from the MCC relating to documents

Templates created by the candidate and used as evidence should be completed/used rather than blank to provide evidence of how the candidate’s initiatives have been implemented. There is little capacity to show the impact of a blank template and such evidence provides limited evidence that they have been effectively used.

Email evidence is best used sparingly. Emails are generally not an effective substitute for a referee statement. They rarely provide authentic evidence of the impact of the candidate’s actions on others. Such communications are generally not heavily weighted by the Committee as they may have a tone of contrivance, undermining the candidate’s genuine influence on colleagues. Where further detail is required, a referee statement should be sought.

Applications are weakened where candidates provide documents that do not support the range of Standards allocated to them. This is most likely to occur where a large number of Standards are attributed to one document.

Where a TAA (A/L) recommends additional evidence be provided by a candidate prior to submission, the candidate should be advised to integrate the evidence so that it forms part of an holistic submission.

Key consideration 6:

Do the three sources of evidence complement each other to strongly attest that the teacher’s practice meets the Standards at the level identified by the candidate?

The strongest submissions present a balance of evidence from all three sources. In these cases, documentary evidence is well selected and combines effectively with the referee and Observer statements to very clearly demonstrate the teacher’s practice against the Standards.

In particular, strong submissions provide:

  • clear evidence across the submission of the effect the candidate has had on the professional practice of colleagues and the learning outcomes of students
  • well selected evidence that is not excessive
  • clear alignment between what the Standard is about and the evidence
  • more than one item of evidence for each Standard, in most cases, and frequently an item of documentary evidence and a referee or External Observer statement
  • evidence to support the External Observer’s statements. The Committee looks for additional evidence for the Standards that have been met (as well as those that have been partially or not met) during the External Observation to support the observed practice
  • evidence of practice across teaching contexts and/or curriculum areas

Key consideration 7:

Is the submission at the appropriate career stage?

It is not uncommon for the MCC to review submissions that reflect good teaching practice but do not consistently meet the Standards at the identified career stage. This occurs when a teacher applies for Professional Accomplishment and significant aspects of their submission reflects practice that demonstrates the Standards at Professional Competence, or where a Professional Leadership candidate’s submission reflects practice of Standards at Professional Accomplishment for some or most of the submission.

It may also occur where candidates assume that their leadership role in a school equates to Professional Leadership and the submission is focused on the candidate’s role rather than their practice against the Standards.

The Committee regularly reviews the descriptions of practice from the Professional Teaching Standards when considering submissions. Reviewing the candidate’s practice against the Standards across the career stages further assists the Committee in making this determination.

Some final cross checks:

In a final overview of a candidate’s submission, the Committee may discuss the evidence in terms of whether it is:

  • sufficient
  • at the identified career stage across all Standards and Elements
  • consistent in quality across the three sources of evidence
  • balanced (see note 3) across the three sources of evidence
  1. In the other cases, the TAA (A/L) made the decision not to accredit without forwarding the submission to the MCC for advice.
  2. The language of this Advice reflects the NSW Professional Teaching Standards. It is designed to provide feedback to TAAs (A/L) about the processes undertaken by the MCC during its first two years of deliberations.
  3. Note that balance does not mean equal use of all three sources. Rather, it means that each of the three sources of evidence is used effectively across the submission. Imbalance can be created by the over use of one source of evidence. For example, a candidate may choose to include three or more items of documentary evidence for some Standards. Although this is ill-advised, as long as there is sufficient referee and External Observer evidence across the submission, the imbalance created by the over use of documentary evidence will not, of itself, lead to a recommendation not to accredit.
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