Frequently asked questions (FAQ's)

Frequently asked questions about national Certification

+ What is Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers?

Certification is a voluntary process that enables teachers to receive national recognition for their highly skilled and exemplary teaching practice. Teachers applying for certification will use the Highly Accomplished or Lead career stages of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the Standards) to critically reflect on their own practice and the impact they have on both students in their classroom, and their colleagues’ practice.

Certification is an extension of the performance and development processes teachers undertake at a school level. What is unique about national certification is that it allows teachers to receive external, expert feedback from trained assessors on their practice and provides teachers with an effective process through which to really interrogate their own practice.

+ What are the benefits of undertaking certification?

Certification is highly valuable professional development, enabling teachers to reflect on and improve their practice in order to improve student outcomes. Other benefits include:

  • feedback on evidence of practice
  • enhanced performance culture
  • shared discourse on effective practice
  • access to networks and communities of practice
  • enhanced collaboration with and support from colleagues within and across schools
  • national recognition for effective teaching
  • increased profile of the profession.

+ How to apply for certification?

If you are interested in certification after having read the available information, please contact your certifying authority. Certifying authorities in each participating state and territory are responsible for implementation of the certification process and all applications. They will be able to provide you with details specific to your situation including:

  • timeframes for the application process
  • costs involved
  • deeming arrangements if you are already certified/accredited under an existing system.

A list of state/territory certifying authorities is available on the AITSL website.

+ Who can apply for certification?

To apply for certification the applicant must:

  • be an Australian citizen or have a permanent residency visa
  • have full registration with an Australian state or territory regulatory authority
  • have been assessed as satisfactory in their two most recent annual performance assessments
  • (or three for those applying for Lead).

Providing applicants can demonstrate all teacher Standards through an ongoing teaching role with students, including in a classroom situation, certification is available to teachers in a range of roles including school support professionals, regional support officers, consultants and advisory teachers and those in equivalent roles who work with students.

+ What if my school doesn’t undertake performance assessments?

Annual performance assessments are not required in a specific format and may be those conducted using the current school/system processes where these exist. It is recognised that currently some schools may not have performance and development processes in place, or the circumstances of teachers may mean they have not received a performance assessment. In these cases, referees will provide evidence of past performance.

Following full implementation of the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework the specific requirements of an annual performance assessment outlined will need to be met.

+ Do I need to have a leadership position in my school to apply for Lead teacher certification?

Certification for Lead teachers is not specifically linked to positional leadership roles. Teachers can demonstrate how they lead and develop others whilst remaining a classroom teacher.

In all schools across Australia, great teachers are sharing their practice and assisting colleagues to develop in many and varied ways. Certification can maximise the recognition of these teachers who lead others in our schools.

+ What is involved in the application process?

There are three stages in an application for certification

  • pre-assessment stage – applicants determine their eligibility and readiness for certification and conduct a mandatory professional discussion with their principal/supervisor. An online self-assessment tool is available on the AITSL website for teachers to assess their readiness to apply
  • assessment stage 1 – submission of evidence against the Standards, which includes annotated evidence of the teacher’s practice, a written statement addressing the Standards, observation reports and referee comments
  • assessment stage 2 – direct assessment of the teacher’s practice onsite by an external assessor, which includes observation, discussion with principal/supervisor, discussion with other colleagues as required, and professional discussion with applicant.

+ Do I have to evidence all of the descriptors at the relevant career stage in the Standards?

The evidence submitted needs to collectively demonstrate achievement of each of the seven Standards and take account of each of the descriptors at the relevant career stage. Teachers are encouraged to present evidence that holistically represents their work and is drawn directly from practice.

Providing direct evidence for some descriptors may be more challenging than others.  For example, a teacher may not have had the opportunity to teach Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students. In this situation, applicants can use evidence not directly related to the descriptor being addressed, for example how teaching strategies for managing diverse learning needs have been designed and implemented and how these would apply to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student.

Further detail can be found in the Guide to Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers in Australia, the Certification documentary evidence supplements and examples of certification evidence which are all available on the AITSL website.

+ How can I evidence student outcomes?

Evidence must demonstrate improvement in student outcomes over a period of time. Student outcomes are broadly defined and include student learning, engagement in learning and wellbeing. Evidence may include but is not limited to:

  • student work samples
  • student assessment – formative, diagnostic and summative
  • lesson plans and supporting documentation that detail the planning and delivery of a teaching sequence and its impact on student learning
  • interviews/surveys of students
  • analysis of student achievement data and outcomes from national, state/territory and/or school-based assessment.

Examples of certification evidence can be found on the AITSL website.

+ What is the role of classroom observation in certification?

Classroom practice is a primary source of evidence for observing how teachers teach and determining what highly effective teachers do in the classroom that distinguishes their practice from less effective teachers.

Demonstration of highly effective and skilled teaching in the classroom is essential at the Highly Accomplished and Lead career stages and therefore observation of an applicant’s practice in the classroom is a critical component of the certification process. This includes two observation reports for the applicant’s collection of evidence at Stage 1, and observation of the applicant’s teaching by an external assessor at Stage 2.

+ What is the role of my principal/supervisor in the certification process?

The role of the principal/supervisor or their delegate in the certification process is to engage in a professional discussion with the teacher regarding readiness to apply for certification, provide performance and development appraisals, undertake observation of the teacher’s practice, and be a referee.

Further details can be found in the Guide to Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers in Australia, which is available on the AITSL website.

+ Who is an external assessor?

The assessors are external to the applicant’s school, are trained in the certification and assessment process through a rigorous national assessor training program and have the expertise to assess a teacher’s evidence against the Standards at the relevant career stage and in the applicant’s context. They may include but are not limited to teachers, school leaders, supervisors, education consultants, teacher educators, jurisdictional officers and specialist staff. Certifying authorities are responsible for selecting their assessors and will continue to train and support them.

+ How will assessors make an ‘on-balance’ judgement?

Assessment will be at the level of each of the seven Standards. Trained assessors will make a judgement that each Standard is achieved based on the evidence provided which takes account of each descriptor within that Standard. The judgement will involve a range of rigorous and authentic assessment processes and analysis of multiple forms of evidence. The on-balance judgement may also involve moderation among assessors to strengthen comparability of the assessment.

+ Will applicants be provided with feedback throughout the certification process?

Participation in the process is designed to ensure all teachers have access to effective and constructive feedback to support growth and improvement.

Applicants will receive feedback formally and informally from their principal/ supervisor, colleagues, external assessors and certifying authorities throughout the process. This feedback will be provided to all who undertake certification regardless of whether they are successful or not.

+ How long does certification last?

Certification lasts for a fixed period of five years, after which a teacher may renew their certification. Details of the renewal of certification are outlined in Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers in Australia.

+ What materials are available to support the certification process?

The following support materials are available:

  • Guide to Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers in Australia
  • Certification documentary evidence supplements
  • Self- Assessment Tool
  • examples of effective teacher practice
  • tools and templates
  • training for assessors
  • web presence.