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We live in an age of policy ‘borrowing’, where policy solutions developed in one context are shared and applied – often uncritically – in other settings. In this assignment you are to analyse one of the following policy issues in Australia as a basis to making recommendations to another country (perhaps your own) on the wisdom of borrowing policy from Australia. The policy issues you may consider are: 

  • Teacher quality
  • School choice
  • Equity in higher education

Philosophical Understanding of Education

Raising standards in the education system are not as a result of accident. It is a result of devoted efforts by different stakeholders. The quality of teachers and school leaders is critical in determining the quality of students produced by the learning institution. Policy formulation and implementation play a great role in ensuring that a high-quality teaching workforce is produced (Baroutsis & Lingard, 2017). Countries that have high-quality teaching workforce puts a lot of efforts in proactive measures such as recruitment in controlling the quality of teachers rather than using reactive measures such as firing unproductive teachers.

Australia has made several efforts to raise the quality of teachers and school leadership. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is a body that was formed in 2010 to provide national leadership in the education system. In the same year, the Professional Standards for Teachers were formulated to outline the skills that teachers in different career level are required to demonstrate. Professional Standards for Schools Principals and the National Partnership on Improving Teacher Quality has led to increased attention to teacher quality and school improvement ( Luke, 2018).

To improve teacher quality, AITSL concentrates on the following major areas: conducting research and producing high-quality materials for teachers and school leaders; national approaches that ensure that training of teachers in an institution of higher learning is of high quality and raising the quality of teaching and school leadership. The key actors in the education policy in Australia include the government, the teachers and the parents (Weldon, 2015).

The definition of education can be approached from both a broader concept and a narrow concept. Broadly, education is a learning process that takes place in the entire life of human beings. It commences when one is born and continues through the entire life of an individual. Knowledge is acquired through many agencies such as the school, home, workplaces among others. The universe is simply a learning place for humanity (Cochran-Smith & Maria Villegas, 2015). Daily experiences of life also offer a rich learning opportunity.

On the hand, education when viewed from the narrow concept it is defined as dissemination of knowledge and instruction within a classroom. The definition of education in a narrow sense indicates that education must be: formal; take a specific duration; follow a curriculum; and is provided by a teacher (Waldow,  Takayama & Sung, 2014).

Schooling entails going to school to receive the formal education. Teachers are the main actors in the dissemination of knowledge to learners. In schools, learners are equipped with practical skills, interaction skills, cultivation of moral values among others (Darling-Hammond, 2015).

This paper is going to consider some of the western thinkers and their views on education and schooling.

Jean Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva Switzerland in 1712. He was the propagator and a believer of education according to the nature of the child. He viewed nature as the best instructor and corrector of a child. He believed in the negative education of the child. According to Rousseau, negative education entails protecting a child from the negative influences of character. He also advocated that a learning environment should be free from pollution. He added that there should not be segregation of learners from different backgrounds in schools. Both rich and poor should study together (Covay Minor, Desimone, Caines Lee & Hochberg, 2016).

Schooling

Dewey was born in Burlington, America. He viewed education as a life necessity that helps an individual to live and meet the social standards of living. Dewey argued that education should be of benefit to both individuals and society as a whole. He viewed school as the best place for imparting knowledge to learners. During his time, he carried out experiments in laboratory schools with an intention of finding out the training that should be imparted to learners (Reagan, Schram, McCurdy, Chang & Evans, 2016).

Several meanings are usually attached to the term teacher quality. These meanings usually illustrate the perspective taken by different writers and policymakers. Some people view teacher quality as academic qualifications while others view it as how best a teacher can deliver in classroom (Au & Ferrare, 2015) Teacher quality is composed of both ‘quality teaching’ and ‘quality teacher’ and therefore entails the teacher’s qualities and skills and the impact the teacher has to the students’ performance. Since teacher quality is defined by two terms, that is, quality teaching and quality teacher, it is prudent to give a further definition of these two components (Santoro & Kennedy, 2016).

Quality teaching is that teaching that has a positive result to the student. This definition lays emphasis on student outcome. For a teaching to be a quality one, then it must produce a positive result for a student. On the hand, a quality teacher is that teacher who possesses the required skills, knowledge and experience of teaching a certain subject effectively (Vermeer, van IJzendoorn, Cárcamo, & Harrison, 2016).

Teacher quality entails the following aspects:

  1. Competence: a competent teacher is one who possesses knowledge and skills to effectively teach. These skills and knowledge are acquired through training, both on job training and college training. Competency also includes the ability to think critically and reflective capabilities.
  2. Teacher professionalism: professionalism in teacher entails abiding by the professional standards set by the relevant professional body. They ought to behave in a professional manner. Professional freedom is a component of professionalism which gives teachers the freedom to be diverse and creative when teaching (Roberts, 2016).
  3. The exercise of personal attribute and values: It is believed that what a teacher believes, the attributes that he possesses, and the values that he stands for, plays a significant role in determining his quality of teaching. Teachers should exercise equity when handling students. They should develop a belief that can motivate them to teach. Teachers who have the ability to socialize with students find it easy to teach. Teachers often deal with students from diverse background and culture and should there know to handle such issues (Savage & O’Connor, 2015).
  4. Teacher relationships with parents and community: Teachers do not work in isolation. There are many stakeholders in education. Parents and community are among the crucial stakeholders (Green, 2016). A good relationship should be maintained between the teacher and these stakeholders for the effective working environment. A good relationship also wins support from parents and the community.
  5. Teacher practices: this refers to how the teacher addresses the specific needs of the students in the classroom.

High performing countries in the world in terms of teacher quality have well-formulated policies which guides the output of teachers in a classroom. Australia is also fairing well on the international scale. In this section, the mechanisms that the Australian government has put in place to address teacher quality will be discussed.

There are many factors which may affect the distribution of teachers nationally. Some regions are considered to have a better working environment while others are considered to be unfriendly to teachers. In Australia, many young teachers prefer working in the coastal region to working in rural areas (Fullan, Rincón-Gallardo & Hargreaves, 2015). This poses a great challenge to the government on how to distribute teachers. It can also affect the quality of service that learners get from teachers. To address this challenge, the government provides financial incentives to teachers who are willing to teach in rural areas. Australia has made several efforts to raise the quality of teachers and school leadership. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is a body that was formed in 2010 to provide national leadership in the education system. In the same year, the Professional Standards for Teachers were formulated to outline the skills that teachers in different career level are required to demonstrate.  

Institutions that wish to attract high- quality workforce must ensure that the salary they offer is comparable to professionals in other fields. If the salary provided to teachers is low, then the learning institutions will not attract high-quality teachers. This will have a negative effect on the quality of education received by learners. In many countries, there is always a heated debate on the issue of evaluation. Teachers are always concerned with knowing the manner in which an evaluation is conducted. In conducting an evaluation, principals should maintain impartiality (Hardy, 2015). In case teachers sense partiality cases then they may not support the evaluation process. The evaluation should also be based on an individual's teaching experience. In 2012, the education cabinet secretary of Australia came up with a framework that guides the teacher’s performance and development. This framework outlines how teachers’ appraisal is supposed to be conducted. It also stipulates the requirement for building a comprehensive and workable approach to high performance and development. It further highlights the features of an effective development cycle (Pennanen, Bristol, Wilkinson & Heikkinen, 2016)

Western Thinkers View on Education and Schooling

A lot of time is taken before an individual can become an expert in any field. Teachers need to engage in regular professional development program so that they can improve their output quality. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) came up with professional standards for teachers in 2011. These standards were meant to provide a mechanism for ensuring quality is maintained. These standards also guide teachers in their professional learning in different stages. Universities in Australia are required to develop and ensure that their programs adhere to the teaching standards. Before universities are issued with accreditation, they are supposed to ensure that their teachers in the graduate stage have met the requirements of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST). Ensuring that graduate teachers meet the APST plays a significant role in ensuring that the quality of teachers is high. This measure of ensuring that the quality of graduate teachers leaving colleges and universities is a good idea as it seeks to control the quality of graduates at an appropriate time. It is also noteworthy that the state of Victoria ties professional development directly to the improvement goals of the schools (Lingard, Thompson, & Sellar, 2015).

Graduate teachers in many countries do not always possess the relevant experience needed in teaching. It is, therefore, necessary to prepare graduates thoroughly before they can start teaching. To improve the initial teacher education, the Australian government set up an advisory group- The Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) in 2014. TEMAG was to come up with a report with the recommendation on how to prepare new teachers and equip them with skills needed for teaching. The implementation of TEMAG’s report has seen improvement in the skills possessed by new teachers. Some of the recommendations in the report include: development of strict measure to ensure the quality of education courses is maintained; thoroughness in the selection process of student to pursue education courses; incorporation of practical skills in training of education students and vigorous assessment of graduates (Mukminin, Rohayati, Putra, Habibi, & Aina, 2017).

Principals play a significant role in ensuring that high-quality education is disseminated to learners. The recruitment process of principals is key in ensuring that an effective leader is hired. The Australian government has put in place the Australian Professional Standards for Principals and leaders (APSP). APSP ensures that principals meet the required standards and are therefore effective. Effective principals ensure that an appropriate learning culture is developed and maintained. He has a responsibility of ensuring that a healthy relationship is maintained between management and teachers. He should ensure that the teacher-student relationship is healthy (Hardy & Woodcock, 2015).

Before teachers can be allowed to teach in Australia, they must first be registered with relevant teacher regulatory authority at the state level. Two forms of registration exist, provisional registration and full registration. Fully registration is done once a teacher meets all the stipulated requirements. Registration ensures that only qualified people are involved in teaching. This facilitates improvement in the quality of teachers.

Teacher Quality Discourses

Australia has made great achievements in ensuring that they have addressed the issues of teacher quality in their education system. Such a success is not a result of chance. It is as a result of their devoted effort to formulate and implement teacher quality policies. Despite all these efforts, Australia is faced with a challenge of distributing their qualified teachers into different regions of the nation. There is an uneven distribution of teachers. Most teachers prefer working in the coastal regions. Though the government has tried to provide incentives to teachers who work in areas that are considered less comfortable, the strategy has not yielded many fruits. Uneven distribution of teachers has denied some students access to quality education (Gambaro, & Stewart, 2014). This will have a negative effect on the quality of education received by learners. In many countries, there is always a heated debate on the issue of evaluation. Teachers are always concerned with knowing the manner in which an evaluation is conducted. In conducting an evaluation, principals should maintain impartiality (Hardy, 2015). In case teachers sense partiality cases then they may not support the evaluation process.

Provision of quality education is a concern to all the key stakeholders in education. Internationally, countries are striving to ensure that they are providing quality education to students. Teacher quality is one of the determinants of the quality of education provided to students. With a proper policy in place, governments are able to address the issue of teacher quality in their respective countries (Kraft & Gilmour, 2017). One of the best ways of solving a problem is through benchmarking. Policymakers can learn how successful countries such as Australia have addressed the challenge of teacher quality. In this section, recommendations are going to be given to international policymakers based on how Australia has addressed the challenge of teacher quality. The recommendations will address how the teacher talent can be improved, how quality teaching can be supported and how to address those factors that hinder attainment of teacher quality (Smith, Hadfield & Dunne, 2016).

Policymakers should seek to ensure that people who have undergone through a thorough preparation are the only one who becomes teachers. It is prudent to ensure that quality is ensured from the very first stage of teacher preparation. To ensure a thorough preparation, the following should be done:

Policies should be formulated to ensure that only students who meet the necessary requirement are allowed to join colleges and universities to train as teachers. It is recommended that universities and colleges should be provided with accreditation from the relevant bodies after they have met the set criteria and standards of training teachers. These institutions should also ensure that they equip students with practical skills to ensure that they are not only theoretically equipped but also possess the practical skill to enable them to teach (Treagust, Won, Petersen & Wynne, 2015).

Before graduates teachers are allowed to teach they should first obtain teaching licenses and register with relevant teachers' authority. The registration and licensing requirement will act as a way of screening teachers. This will ensure new teachers meet the requirement before they can be allowed to teach. Licensing will ensure that teachers abide by the professional standards of the profession. There should be a punishment for those who violate the professional standards (Schleicher, 2016).

Evaluation of the Research Evidence Being Used in the Policy Discourse in Australia

Policies that support quality reaching should be put in place to facilitate support for new teachers and experienced teachers. To support and promote quality teaching the following should be done:

The work environment for teachers is dynamic and changes more often. This necessitates a change in way teaching is conducted to match with the changing dynamics. Teachers, therefore, need to be taught how to address the ever-changing environment. They should be taught new skills and strategies for handling different circumstances at workplaces. Relevant authorities in respective countries should come up with professional standards that are meant to guide the professional development of teachers. Proper development of teacher will improve their output in class and enable them to deliver quality work.

Teacher evaluation is a way in which the professional needs of the teacher are identified thus informing professional development. Principals should look for an appropriate method to use in the evaluation and appraisal of teachers. A clear guideline should also be formulated to guide the principals when conducting evaluation and appraisal (Ballou & Springer, 2015).

The policies discussed above can be effective if only the issues that undermine the attainment of teacher quality are addressed. It is, therefore, necessary to have prevention policies that address threats to teacher quality. To prevent threats to teacher quality, it is necessary to:

Retaining ineffective teachers poses a great threat to the attainment of teacher quality. It is, therefore, necessary that the issue of ineffective teachers be addressed appropriately. It is important to follow the right procedure when considering removing or sacking an ineffective teacher. A proper mechanism should be formulated that would facilitate removal of persistently ineffective teachers.

Assigning teachers to teach subjects that they have not specialized in is a threat to the attainment of teacher quality. Teachers' work should be matched with their skills. In most cases, teachers are assigned to teach subjects they lack skill as a result of a vacant position or lack of enough workforces. The school management should address the issue of teacher turnover as it contributes to the problem of unmatched skills hence compromised quality teaching.

Well performing teachers should be provided with incentives. This acts as a motivating factor to teachers. Well performing teachers are motivated to perform even better. Motivations also challenge the less performing teachers to improve and reach the standards of the best performer.

Adoption of teacher quality policies used in Australia to another country is noble. This is with the good intention of raising the quality of the teacher in the country where the policies are to be adopted. Implementation of teacher quality policies is also going to raise the quality of education offered to student and thereafter improve their performance. Teacher quality policies are meant to improve service delivery. Application of these policies facilitates the smooth running of schools, colleges, and universities. The relationship between the teachers and the students will improve. Parents and the community is going to have faith in schools due to improved results (Gore, & Bowe, 2015).

Teacher Distribution

It is noteworthy to say that implementation of teacher quality policy has a direct effect on how teachers are going to work. Adoption of these may also cause some teachers to lose their job. It is, therefore, necessary for teachers to be prepared psychologically for the change that is expected. In this section recommendations to teachers are going to be highlighted on what they should consider even as the teacher quality policies are to be implemented. Teachers should consider the following:

There are many stakeholders who are concerned with the teacher quality policies. Amongst these stakeholders are the government and the teachers. To a greater extent, the teachers are the main target of these policies. They are expected to bear a large burden of the policy adoption and implementation program. Preparation for teachers is therefore necessary and crucial. They should prepare thoroughly to work within the confines of the policy. The policy may to some extent change the working environment of the teachers. They should, therefore, be prepared to work in the new legal environment (Coates, & Mahat, 2014)

Some of the policies that are to be implemented are concerned with the output of the teachers. The evaluation seeks to measure how effective a teacher is in teaching. It is through evaluation that a teacher is either considered effective or ineffective. Some teachers may not have put maximum efforts in their teaching. They need to change their attitude and increase their devotion to their work. This will help to avoid being fired due to their ineffectiveness. Commitment to work may have a positive impact on the students’ results.

As it has been discussed in the previous sections of this paper, the attributes and values that teachers possess have an influence on the outcome of the students' results. Some teachers' beliefs toward certain students are quite discouraging. These teachers make negative comments towards some students. Telling them how they cannot perform better in class. These discouragements have negative effects on the students' result. It is quite unfortunate such comments are sometimes deliberate. Teachers should learn to be positive towards students.

Success in the implementation of the teacher quality policies requires unwavering support from all the crucial stakeholders. Teachers are one these key stakeholders. Without their support, the implementation may become challenging. Teacher quality policies seek to benefit all parties including teachers. Implementation of teacher quality policies will ensure that hardworking teachers are provided with incentives. It will also ensure that the professional needs of the teachers are taken care of. The professional needs include proper training that will enable teachers to be dynamic in the working environment. Successful implementation will further ensure that teachers only teach those subjects in which they are conversant with. It is therefore important for teachers to consider supporting the implementation of the teacher quality policies, (Dimmock, & O'Donoghue, 2014).

References 

Covay Minor, E., Desimone, L., Caines Lee, J., & Hochberg, E. D. (2016). Insights on How to Shape Teacher Learning Policy: The Role of Teacher Content Knowledge in Explaining Differential Effects of Professional Development. education policy analysis archives, 24(61), n61.

Compensation and Evaluation

Au, W., & Ferrare, J. J. (Eds.). (2015). Mapping corporate education reform: Power and policy networks in the neoliberal state. Routledge.

Ballou, D., & Springer, M. G. (2015). Using student test scores to measure teacher performance: Some problems in the design and implementation of evaluation systems. Educational Researcher, 44(2), 77-86.

Baroutsis, A., & Lingard, B. (2017). Counting and comparing school performance: an analysis of media coverage of PISA in Australia, 2000–2014. Journal of Education Policy, 32(4), 432-449.

Coates, H., & Mahat, M. (2014). Threshold quality parameters in hybrid higher education. Higher Education, 68(4), 577-590.

Cochran-Smith, M., & Maria Villegas, A. (2015). Studying teacher preparation: The questions that drive research. European Educational Research Journal, 14(5), 379-394.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2015). The flat world and education: How America's commitment to equity will determine our future. Teachers College Press.

Dimmock, C., & O'Donoghue, T. (2014). School restructuring: International perspectives. Routledge.

Fullan, M., Rincón-Gallardo, S., & Hargreaves, A. (2015). Professional capital as accountability. education policy analysis archives, 23, 15.

Gambaro, L., & Stewart, K. (Eds.). (2014). An equal start?: Providing quality early education and care for disadvantaged children. Policy Press.

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Green, A. (2016). Handbook of global education policy. John Wiley & Sons.

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Weldon, P. R. (2015). The teacher workforce in Australia: Supply, demand and data issues.

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