Beginning teachers deliver same quality of teaching as experienced teachers

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Early career teachers deliver the same quality of teaching as their more experienced colleagues, new research from the University of Newcastle’s Teachers and Teaching Research Centre (TTRC) reveals.

Teacher at front of classroom with student hands in the air

According to lead researcher and Director of the TTRC, Laureate Professor Jenny Gore, the study provides a powerful insight into the quality of graduate teachers and the quality of initial teacher education (ITE) programs.

“These results indicate that ITE programs are preparing beginning teachers to deliver quality teaching and have a positive impact in their classrooms right away,” Professor Gore said.

Researchers used the Quality Teaching Model to analyse 990 lessons taught by 512 Year 3 and 4 teachers from 260 NSW public schools. The data was collected as part of two major studies in 2014-2015 and 2019-2021.

All teachers participating in the trials were employed on at least a 12-month contract and had experience ranging from less than one year in the classroom to more than 24 years.

Researchers found no statistically significant differences in teaching quality across the years of experience range. Even when experience categories were broken down in different ways to test for accuracy, the result was maintained.

Professor Gore said the results were surprising and somewhat counterintuitive, however there were at least two possible explanations.

“Initial teacher education programs are performing far better than is typically assumed in policy and segements of the media -- graduate teachers are entering the profession ‘classroom ready’,” she said.

“It also shows that on-the-job experience is insufficient on its own to raise teaching quality. While experienced teachers make many valuable contributions in schools including through leadership and mentoring, it could be that much of the professional development they do over the course of their careers makes little difference to the quality of their pedagogy.

“To improve the quality of teaching across a career span, we need to ensure that all teachers, regardless of experience, participate in high-impact, evidence-backed forms of professional development.

“We urge policymakers to acknowledge the good work being done by beginning teachers and ITE programs, ensure schools are resourced properly, and support teachers with powerful professional development opportunities to ensure continued quality teaching,” Professor Gore concluded.


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