Call for national standards to guide teaching resources

Call for national standards to guide teaching resources

Standardising high-quality instructional materials could streamline teacher resources and improve students’ learning outcomes, according to a new paper released today.

The new paper, released by the Centre for Independent Studies today, says teachers are overwhelmed by the plethora of digital resources and lack centralised guidance on selecting quality materials. This in turn increases their workload and leads to inconsistent practices, impacting student outcomes.

The study’s lead author is Jarrod Carter, Senior Educational Data Analyst at Catholic Education South Australia, where he oversees the collection and analysis of educational data for more than 50,000 students across 101 schools.

In his research, Carter looked at lessons from international experiences in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom where teachers are guided by a standardised approach to certifying high-quality instructional materials (HQIM).

He says an Australian Standard for HQIM – built on evidence, curriculum alignment, assessment, support systems, and digital safety protocols – could have the potential to streamline resource selection processes and lift student achievement.  

Central to the proposed framework is an online HQIM Hub — akin to the successful U.S. EdReports platform — that would provide transparent reviews of instructional materials against the Australian Standard. 

By encouraging researchers to focus on scalable HQIM initiatives, the system would foster a culture of research-to-practice, ultimately benefiting student learning outcomes.

“Certifying instructional materials is an important reform needed to assist Australian schools access and leverage resources,” Carter said. “It is a tangible policy choice to support more consistent and evidence-based approaches to teaching.”

Carter added that overseas examples have demonstrated that a structured evaluation of HQIM holds promise for elevating resource quality, simplifying decision-making processes, and promoting a culture of continuous improvement in schools.

Professional standards being ‘ignored’ by expert panel

In March, a separate paper warned that Australian Professional Standards for Teachers have been ignored by the Teacher Education Expert Panel.

“Rather than exemplifying best practice, [teacher standards] are ambiguous and vague, inviting a breadth of unhelpful interpretations,” Rebecca Birch, Director of Research and Practice at a K-12 independent school in Sydney, said.

Birch said while the expert panel recommended reforms to Initial Teacher Education core content in its Strong Beginnings report to align it more closely with best practice, these efforts will not be successful unless standards are also brought into line.

The CIS paper recommends amending standards to focus on core content, integrating essential teacher competencies, conducting rigorous factor and value-added analysis on new standards, and developing national professional learning guidelines with effective staffing and funding case studies.

Birch also makes the case for professional development to be aligned to new standards to drive teaching quality at all career stages.

“Professional standards can and should help define what the profession values. These standards can be better leveraged to define, reflect and foster quality teaching practice,” Birch said.

“A new set of standards grounded in empirical evidence would provide a more detailed and comprehensive framework for teacher professionalism and — by aligning closely with evidence-based practices and emphasising specific competencies — elevate teaching quality across all career stages.”