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MCC advice to teachers

The Moderating and Consistency Committee (MCC) is a sub-committee of the Quality Teaching Council (QTC). Convened by NESA (previously BOSTES), the MCC provides advice to support consistency in decision-making on Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher accreditation.

The MCC’s advice is based on their assessments of applications for accreditation at the higher level teacher career stages. The Committee’s insights are valuable and teachers are encouraged to draw out the many practical tips contained in it, especially the topics on:

  • choosing the correct career stage for your application
  • developing your submission – the tips for effectively selecting the sources of evidence (i.e. documentary, referee and observer) that connect to each of the seven Standards
  • final considerations, drawing attention to the markers of strong (i.e. likely successful) against weak (i.e. likely unsuccessful) applications.


The MCC has been assessing applications for higher level teacher accreditations at since 2012.

The following advice to teachers is based on the analysis of submissions undertaken by the Committee prior to and during their deliberations.

Getting it right at the start: choose the appropriate career stage for your application

Selecting between Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher can be complex and is best made through a thorough examination of your practice against the Standard Descriptors. Even if the decision appears obvious, as a potential candidate, you are advised to examine how your practice addresses each of the Standard Descriptors with an open mind.

It is not uncommon for the MCC to review submissions that reflect good teaching practice but do not consistently meet the Standard Descriptors at the identified career stage. For example, instances where a teacher applies for Highly Accomplished Teacher but significant aspects of their practice reflect the Standard Descriptors at Proficient Teacher, or when a Lead candidate’s practice is reflective of Standard Descriptors at Highly Accomplished Teacher. In these cases, the Committee has no choice but to recommend that the TAA (A/L) not accredit the teacher.

The Standards are teaching standards. Being in an executive role in a school for example, does not necessarily mean that your practice meets the Standards at Lead Teacher.

Tips for choosing the appropriate career stage for your accreditation:

  • Read the descriptions of practice at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher carefully. You will find this information on page 7 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
  • Review your practice carefully against all of the Standard Descriptors across the key stages. Many practices you assume are Lead may in fact meet the Standard Descriptors at Highly Accomplished.
  • Undertake the online Preliminary Assessment. The assessment is based on your answers to the questions, so you need to be honest about your practice to get accurate feedback.
  • Have a discussion with your principal/service director and other trusted colleagues.

General advice for developing your submission

The evidence a candidate collects and the way it is organised and presented should be thoughtfully planned. The submission assessment process involves several readings by a number of individuals who do not know the candidate or their context. Strong submissions provide an appropriate balance of the three sources of evidence:

  • documentary evidence
  • referee evidence
  • external observer

The strongest submissions present documentary evidence that is well selected and combine effectively with the referee and observer statements to clearly demonstrate the Standard Descriptors.

All candidates are urged to read the Policy for Accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher (PDF 346 KB) and the Evidence Guides for their career stage (eg Highly Accomplished (PDF 725 KB) and Lead Teacher (PDF 767 KB)) before commencing their application.

Documentary evidence

While the organisation of the documentary evidence does not directly affect the recommendation of the MCC, a poorly organised submission makes it difficult for Committee members to understand your evidence in the context you intended.

How to best present your documentary evidence?

When presenting the documentary evidence in your submission:

  • ensure your documents have consistent file names that reflect the document content
  • ensure your documents are logically organised and well presented, with clear photocopies and scans
  • your annotations need to:
    • refer to the evidence by its title for easy location of evidence by the MCC
    • explain the link between your practice, the document and the assigned Standard Descriptor(s)
    • clarify your role in the origin and development of each piece of documentary evidence
  • if a document needs verification, add a referee report
  • state the ways students, colleagues, parents/carers use and benefit from the document(s) you’ve produced and spell out the impact of the document
  • use email evidence sparingly; they are seen as less credible, considered less authentic and sometimes perceived as contrived by the Committee
  • ensure all your evidence is de-identified to protect the identity of students and conduct a check after scanning the documents as sometimes seemingly blocked out names may in fact be seen or read
  • upload each document only once
  • use more than one document for significant examples of practice; avoid attributing a large number of Standard Descriptors to a single document
  • applications are weakened when documents do not support the range of Standard Descriptors allocated to them.

Referee evidence

Referees reports form an important part of the evidence.

The Committee carefully considers:

  • the range of referees selected; referees are checked to ensure they at least include:
    • the candidate’s school principal/service director
    • a professional peer
    • a colleague to whom they have provided support and mentoring
  • the ability of each referee to attest to the teacher’s practice
  • the extent to which the referee statements describe the candidate’s practice in relation to the individual Standard Descriptors.

How should the referee evidence be presented?

As the candidate you can only guide your referees on the format and presentation of their comments on your teaching practice. You cannot write, in full or in part, any of their reports.

Referee statements must:

  • explain the nature of their professional relationship with you, to include:
    • a brief statement of fact including their role (i.e. as principal/service director and/or peer)
    • the context of the referee’s statement (e.g. school, professional association parent, teacher education student, or university colleague)
    • the length of time they have known you
  • include, a statement from your principal/service director
  • be clear and concise statements that directly address:
    • the language of the Standard Descriptors
    • how you have demonstrated the level of the Standard Descriptor
    • specific examples of your actions and outcomes based on their first-hand knowledge
    • the scope and context of the examples as they apply to the Standard Descriptor.

As the candidate, you should consider the following guide to ethical preparation of referees:

What to avoid
  • Allocate a reasonable number of Standard Descriptors to each referee.
  • Discuss your practice with the referee and ask them to consider their own first-hand examples.
  • Suggest colleagues or others who may provide guidance and support when composing the statement.
  • Allow adequate time to clarify the process and requirements and to write the statement
  • Provide blank scaffolds for writing
  • Provide referees with access to BOSTES support material and scaffolds
  • Writing statements or editing referee statements yourself
  • Providing partially completed scaffolds
  • Asking referees to expand beyond their first-hand knowledge
  • Approaching family members or friends to be referees
  • Providing written examples or sentences to be included by a referee
  • Using pre-filled examples and templates for referees to re-word.

External observer evidence

The external observer’s report is considered an important and valuable source of evidence by the Committee. It presents an objective voice to validate a candidate’s claim.

How to make the most of your external observation?

Evidence collected through external observation has to take place within an organised timeframe. To make effective use of your observation session(s):

  • plan your external observation carefully, with a range of around 6 to 10 thoughtfully selected Standard Descriptors
  • discuss the Observation with your allocated external observer prior to the day remember that the external observer is likely to have experience doing observations so it is wise to accept their advice
  • consider both teaching and non-teaching activities for the observation; strong teaching practice is expected in all cases and the opportunity for the external observer to see your practice with colleagues and/or parents is favourably viewed by the Committee
  • if the external observer is not able to observe an identified Standard Descriptor, or can only partially observe it, then make sure you select other sources of evidence (i.e. documentary or referee) to fully address the Standard Descriptor.

As the candidate, check that you don’t:

  • present an observation report, that addresses a very small number of Standard Descriptors or is based on a very narrow range of your activities; this may diminish the application
  • expect the external observer to comment on too many Standard Descriptors as this may also diminish an application; selecting too many Standard Descriptors may mean the external Observer won’t get the opportunity to observe them all on the day
  • diminish the rare opportunity to demonstrate practice to the Standard Descriptor(s) for the relevant career stage in front of a third party observer due to lack of planning and organisation; ensure you use the external observation materials that are available to candidates through the online submission to make the most of the opportunity.

Some final considerations

The Committee generally describes weaker submissions as providing insufficient appropriate evidence to support the candidate. This may occur because:

  • some Standard Descriptors have not been met by the candidate, even though other parts of the application may be quite strong
  • a significant number of Standard Descriptors are supported by weak evidence
  • there is a significant imbalance between the number of Standard Descriptors supported by documentary, referee and observer evidence; note that balance does not mean equal use of all three sources, rather, it means that each of the three sources of evidence is used effectively across the submission
  • there is inconsistency across the three sources of evidence, where referee and/or observer statements do not adequately validate the documentary evidence.

Candidates are advised to pay close attention to detail, to ensure they have developed a balanced submission with sufficient evidence across all Standard Descriptors.

Download the PDF version — Moderating and Consistency Committee (MCC) Advice to Teachers (145 KB).

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