Teacher with her students

Teacher Quality

Education systems value what they can measure. We aim to measure what the profession values.
Information about studies into teacher quality conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney.

Everybody remembers their favourite teachers, but what makes them stand out? Is what you consider a good quality of a teacher, what everyone considers a good quality? What are the indicators of teacher quality, and how do you accurately measure them? These are the questions that this research group seeks to answer.

What are our principles?

We believe teacher’s work is a complex undertaking based on professional judgements informed by bodies of educational knowledge. As a team, we value teachers as key contributors to the formation of a just society.

We are committed to supporting the complex work of teachers through research informed advocacy. We recognise that teachers contribute to the public good in difficult circumstances by supporting the learning needs of all students. As educators we note that the concept of ‘teacher quality’ is a contested space. We take a stance to speak back against the negativity continually promoted about teacher quality and to promote shared understandings of a holistic conceptualisation.

What is our goal?

Our goal is to reposition the current deficit discourse by exemplifying a process to identify and measure indicators of teacher quality that will provide the profession with a vocabulary for recognising and enhancing teacher quality. We hope that the examination of research informed qualities will support a positive reframing of the broader discourse around teacher quality.

What is our strategy?

We aim to achieve this work through undertaking robust research projects, publishing reliable reports, consulting with stakeholders and expanding our local remit to work on a national agenda to inform policy that will drive support for a more holistic view of teachers and their work. For example, it is envisaged that this research will inform revisions of Australian teacher professional standards.

As our projects evolve, we commit to these four elements:

·       Robust research

·       Reliable reporting

·       Stakeholder consultation

·       Policy change

The What’s the Evidence team is a collective of initial teacher educators, measurement experts and HDR students who undertake translational research. Our research will offer fresh insight to contemporary challenges to the teaching workforce.

The teacher quality team consists of:


Professor Janet Clinton

The research team would also like to recognise the work of:

Dr Patrick Brownlee (past team member)

Nicole Hart (past team member)

Dr Joanne Yoo (past team member)

Dr Joel Craddock (past research assistant)

The teacher quality research team has been disseminating a range of written material including journal articles and publications as outlined below. Certain publications may be available upon request. Please email: teacher-quality.study@sydney.edu.au stating the title(s) or presentations you are interested in.

Journal Articles

Cotton, W. G., Simpson, A., White, R., Harb, G., Hart, N., Hendry, G., Karimullah, M., Lawson-Jones, A., Maher, D., Peralta, L. R., Preston, C., Rowley, J., & Tognolini, J. (Under review). Indicators of Teacher Quality: a scoping review Educational Research Review

Simpson, A., Maher, D., Harb, G. & Lawson-Jones, A. (under review). Exploring potential indicators of teacher quality for early career teachers: A stakeholder view, Teaching and Teacher Education

Conference Presentations

White, R. & Peralta, L. (2023, July) Aligning the indicators of quality teachers with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers [Paper presentation]. ATEA 2023: Embracing Partnerships: Leading the Future of Teaching, Learning and Research, Sydney, Australia.

Preston, C., Peralta, L., Karimullah, M,. and Harb, G. (2023, July) Determining the indicators of teacher quality across subject disciplines [Paper presentation]. ATEA 2023: Embracing Partnerships: Leading the Future of Teaching, Learning and Research, Sydney, Australia.

Maher, D., Harb, G., & Simpson, A. (2023, July) Partnering with stakeholders to confirm the construct of teacher quality and build a consensus view of essential indicators for ECTs: A modified Delphi process. [Paper presentation]. ATEA 2023: Embracing Partnerships: Leading the Future of Teaching, Learning and Research, Sydney, Australia.

Cotton, W., White, R & Simpson, A. (2023, April) What's the Evidence? A Scoping Review on Teacher Quality [Paper presentation]. AERA 2023: Interrogating Consequential Education Research in Pursuit of Truth, Chicago, IL, United States.

Cotton, W., & White, R., (2022, November) Indicators of Quality Teachers: a scoping review [Paper presentation]. AARE 2022: Transforming the Future of Education - The Role of Research, Adelaide, Australia.

Simpson, A., & Maher, D., (2022, November) Designing a Delphi process: achieving evidence informed consensus on indicators of quality teachers for ITE future guidelines [Paper presentation]. AARE 2022: Transforming the Future of Education - The Role of Research, Adelaide, Australia.

White, R., & Cotton, W., (2022, November) Developing Measures for the Indicators of Quality Teachers [Paper presentation]. AARE 2022: Transforming the Future of Education - The Role of Research, Adelaide, Australia.

Cotton, W., White, R. & Rowley, J. (2022, July) Quality Teachers [Paper presentation]. ATEA 2022: Disrupting Teacher Education: Responsive, Reciprocal and Radical Conversations Around Research and Practice: Online.

Rowley, J. (2022, July) What's the Evidence: Developing indicators of teacher quality to investigate the predictive validity of Teaching Performance Assessments [Paper presentation]. HERDSA 2022: Online.

Measuring Teacher Quality

The Measuring Teacher Quality (MTQ) study expands on the innovative What's the Evidence (WtE) project, aiming to develop measures of teacher quality for Australian educators. It addresses challenges, improves professional status, and closes the gap between research and teaching.

The proposed Measuring Teacher Quality (MTQ) study will build on results from the What’s the Evidence (WtE) project. While the work being undertaken as part of WtE is innovative, the list of indicators of teacher quality is robust, and the process has been systematically built and tested, it is currently focused on one Australian state.

It is also resourced to utilise existing individual measures of teacher quality rather than to develop measures for what the profession values as essential for educators. Therefore, the development of the MTQ study represents an expansion of the original WtE study into future externally funded research at a national level, including rural, regional and Indigenous communities.

Outcomes from the MTQ project will provide solutions to challenges facing the profession and improve the status of the profession. We will identify what stakeholders value about teacher quality and their current professional needs and priorities.

We will work with teachers to develop measures of teacher quality, providing direct benefits to participants and closing the gap between research and the teaching profession. Our project aims to provide an evidence base to inform policy and support professional development needs related to teacher quality and education in Australia.

More specifically, our upcoming project “Measuring Teacher Quality”, builds on results from the current (WtE) project with a focus on:

1. Shaping an evidence base of teacher quality that can inform policy making.

2. Supporting teacher participant capacity to use data and measurement in their professional development

3. Supporting PhD and postdoctoral positions

4. Focusing on teachers in rural, regional and Indigenous communities to improve equity of provision.

5. Supporting future work force planning and improve advocacy for the status of the profession

6. Improve teacher retention through provision of stakeholder-informed reflective professional development.