Understanding and Interrogating Professional Standards

  • R. Scott WebsterEmail author
  • John D. Whelen


This chapter critically evaluates the nature of and the use made of professional standards in teaching. Focussing on the Australian context, the authors highlight the tension between the expectations of agencies outside of the teaching profession, such as government and bureaucracies, ‘to control teachers and how they teach, or whether the standards should assist in empowering’ teachers to define what constitutes ‘good teaching’. The question is raised ‘whether teachers should allow the standards to define ‘good teaching’’ at all. This has important consequences, as the authors point out, in the case of teacher assessments where competence depends on being able to demonstrate how standards are achieved. As they stand, many teaching standards are based on a particular kind of ‘evidence-based research’ which is inherently problematic and which allows them to be used in a reductive, narrow way (achieving basic competence) in teacher assessment. Such standards tend to frame teachers as ‘solely accountable for the success or failures of their students’ learning’ and to ignore highly significant qualities characteristic of excellent teaching. The authors argue for far more emphasis to be placed on research in education to determine ‘standards’ if they are to be used at all, and for increased teacher agency and respect for teachers’ professional judgements in their use and evaluation. Such a move would mean a welcome turn towards concern for being a teacher as distinct from merely teaching.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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