Assessment tools

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Tool 3B: Key Challenge


Issue/Challenge: Assessing According to the Professional Teaching Standards


There is increased pressure on assessors to make explicit assessment judgements that align with prescriptive professional teaching standards and that can be supported by documented authentic evidence.

Tool Summary:

Issue/challenge: Professional Teaching Standards  

Increasingly the Professional Experience assessment process is structured around and informed by Professional Teaching Standards frameworks. Assessment processes now need to be focussed not only towards evaluating the preservice teacher’s (PST’s) performance and capacity against Standards, but also aligned with Standards in formative processes  to guide each PST’s on-going professional learning.

Portfolio assessment provides a structure that can link Standards and present a coherent ‘picture’ of a professional experience placement.  The National Professional Teaching Standards (AITSL, 2010), with their Focus Areas offer a comprehensive guiding framework for PSTs and their assessors. However, Standards can be experienced as very prescriptive, complex and expressed in language that is not completely accessible by both PSTs and their assessors. This may present particular challenge to PSTs and those teachers who themselves have not been involved in AITSL’s or state-based accreditation processes. Increased pressure on assessors to make more explicit assessment judgments aligned with prescriptive Professional Teaching Standards and supported by authentic evidence can add to the overall pressure around Professional Experience assessment. Additionally, Professional Experience reports generally now are explicit and standards-linked and require clear articulations of demonstrated professional practice using the language of the Standards framework.

Assessors need to have the professional expertise to analyse explicitly practice and teaching capacity in terms of relevant Professional Teaching Standards at Graduate Teacher level and to assist PSTs in this process. Additionally, they need the professional knowledge and judgment to modify Standards to be appropriate to each PST’s developmental stage and learning needs. Relevant Evidence Guides linked to Standards offer valuable assistance to both formative and summative assessment processes.


Assessment Strategy & Process


Strategy and Process: Portfolio

  • Portfolios as assessment structures and processes can foreground engagement for both PSTs and their assessors with Professional Teaching Standards, such as the AITSL’s National professional Teaching Standards framework.
  • Portfolio assessment requires the PST to compile, link and present a selection of evidence collected across the placement period in order to demonstrate their teaching capacity and understandings in selected area(s) of teaching practice.
  • The portfolio may be a highly defined process guided by specific proformas and communication steps including key questions to be addressed, or may allow more autonomy and creative input for the PST themselves.
  • Not only does the portfolio serve to provide documentation of the PST’s understanding of what counts as valid evidence against particular Standards or frameworks, but also there is the opportunity for the PST to annotate the evidence and add reflective comments.  Assessors thus have more than observed performance of PST’s teaching practice to draw on in both formative and summative stages of the assessment process.
  • Portfolio documents can link separate professional experience placements/events across a pre-service course. As such they can be an evolving and on-going document that is progressively compiled and shared with each subsequent supervisor.  At specific stages in the PST’s development the portfolio can focus on particular Standards.  For example Standards 1-5 form an appropriate focus for early stage placements, Standards 6 and 7 are relevant to culminating professional experience placements.
  • Portfolios provide opportunities for the PST to organise and integrate experiences, understandings, and reflections emerging from their placement and from campus-based learning. It provides an assessment mode that is richer than one solely based on observation of teaching practice and can allow the assessor to have a ‘window’ into the thinking and ‘meaning-making’ of the PST.
  • The portfolio can be presented by the PST to their supervising teacher/assessor or a panel and discussed as a summative event within the assessment process. Portfolios thus provide a valuable contribution to assessor’s decision-making to guide and support the final grading and reporting.
  • At the end of the pre-service course the final portfolio can be used to provide a complete documentation of the PST’s attainment of all Professional Teaching Standards at graduate level. As a document it can then be presented at interview for accreditation or employment. It can also provide the foundation for portfolio work required for the next stage of professional accreditation by in-service teachers.
  • Portfolios may be electronic (e-portfolio), aiding the inclusion of a range of electronically transmissible evidence such as photos and videos as well as providing a means for electronic submission to assessors who may be at distance from the professional experience site. ICT Communicative technologies offer the potential to increasingly employ online links such as Skype and video-conferencing to connect Roundtable assessment participants both on and off the placement site and to link effectively to e-portfolio structures.

Portfolio evidence/artefacts may include:

  • Documents such as lesson and unit plans, including evaluative comments.
  • Observation and feedback sheets completed by supervising teachers and mentors.
  • Resources developed during the placement
  • Video, audio and photo material – annotated (or not) to demonstrate elements of teaching practice.
  • Reflective writing and analysis possibly in response to a set of pertinent questions





Resources: Protocols and Rubrics

  • A set of explicit guidelines for portfolio development, linked to Professional Teaching Standards needs to be collaboratively developed and communicated to guide the presentation and discussion of a portfolio by the PST and how it is to be included in the assessment processes.
  • Clear guidelines regarding forms of evidence, annotations required and timelines for development and presentation of portfolio are required. Evidence Guides are useful resources for this work.
  • Evidence Guides for the Professional Teaching Standards framework, such as that produced by Project Evidence provide explicit guidelines for both PSTs and assessors as well to identify valid forms of evidence to support assessment judgments with respect to particular Standards and Focus Areas.
  • Summative judgement may be informed by documents assembled during the placement, the final portfolio and possibly the PST’s associated oral presentation. Focus is commonly not only towards the evidence selected and presented but to the way it is annotated, linked to particular Standards and inclusive of pertinent reflective comments.Activity: Read and discuss


  • Read and discuss - D. Bloomfield. (2010). Using Portfolios to Communicate. . In R. Ewing, T. Lowrie & J.Higgs (Ed.), Teaching & Communicating: Rethinking Professional Experiences. (pp. 149–162), Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 


  • Visit the Project Assessment ‘sister site” – Project Evidence at
  • Click on: Professional Standards
  • Scroll to: Understanding the Standards and complete the activity







Professional Teaching Standards

All Professional Teaching Standards can be addressed when portfolio development and presentation is a key assessment process. However, selected Standards and focus areas may be identified as relevant to the portfolio requirements at  specific PST developmental tages. A final presentation by the PST via a portfolio when articulation of understandings and performance against Professional Teaching Standards is required, provides rich evidence to inform the assessment summative judgment.

 Standard 6, Engaging in Professional Learning is particularly apt in terms of the PST focussing on the development of their own professional learning and providing evidence of this development within a portfolio.