A new report from the OECD has found that the education reforms introduced by the Federal Government through the National Education Agreement have improved transparency and accountability of the school system, but significant work remains to generate improvements at the classroom level.


The report, OECD Review on Evaluation and Assessment in Education: Australia looked at the national framework for the evaluation and assessment for teachers, students and schools.


The report found  that “the overall evaluation and assessment framework appears as highly sophisticated and well conceptualised, especially at its top level (national and systemic levels).”


However, “there is a less clear articulation of ways for the national agenda to generate improvements in classroom practice through the assessment and evaluation procedures which are closer to the place of learning.


“Moreover, striking the right balance between nationally-dictated policies and ability to meet local needs is a challenge and there is room to improve the integration of the non-governmental sector.”


The report suggested that to realize the full potential of the overall evaluation and assessment framework strategies were needed to strengthen the linkages to classroom practice.


“A major step in this direction would be a national reflection about the nature and purpose of evaluation components such as school evaluation, teacher appraisal and student formative assessment within the overall education reform strategy and the best approaches for these evaluation components to improve classroom practices.


“The agreement of protocols between educational jurisdictions and the Australian Government in these areas could also be the basis for promoting national consistency while giving room for local diversity. Requiring the non-government sector to be part of such protocols could also improve its integration in the overall evaluation and assessment framework.”


The report noted that while teachers benefit from a high degree of trust and extensive autonomy, they have few opportunities for professional feedback.


It also found that teacher appraisal was of variable quality, and recommended a nationally consistent system for teacher appraisal.


“The teaching profession would benefit from the alignment of teaching standards with a competency-based career structure for teachers.


“This would strengthen the incentive for teachers to improve their competencies, and reinforce the matching between teachers’ levels of competence and the tasks which need to be performed in schools to improve student learning.


As a result, teacher registration could be conceived as career-progression evaluation. It would have as its main purposes holding teachers accountable for their practice, determining advancement in the career, and informing the professional development plan of the teacher. Also, teacher appraisal as part of performance management processes should be conceived as developmental evaluation, i.e. the main process through which the improvement function of teacher appraisal is achieved. It would retain its current character but school-based processes for developmental evaluation would need to be strengthened and validated externally.”


The Minister for School Education Peter Garrett said that work in areas where the OECD had made recommendations has already started as part of the Government’s wider education agenda.


These include:

  • Rewards for School Improvement, providing a nationally consistent approach to assessing school performance and improvement
  • Online Diagnostic Tools which will give parents and teachers feedback on student performance and extra resources to improve results
  • Further improvements to the My School website
  • Empowering Local Schools Initiative – giving schools a greater say in decision-making
  • A review of NAPLAN to ensure it aligns with the new Australian Curriculum
  • Rewards for Great Teachers, which will introduce a nationally consistent, rigorous and objective performance management system for teachers.


The OECD report is available here.