Australian governments are committed to closing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australian education outcomes, as outlined, for example, in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010-2014. In support of this commitment, the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers require that all teachers demonstrate professional expertise when teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and when developing in all students an understanding of, and respect for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This article is intended as a guide to professional development and learning options for all Australian teachers – Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous – in these areas of learning. The article has been prepared mainly from edited excerpts of the report A Unit Outline and Content for Professional Learning Units to Support Teachers in Meeting Focus Areas 1.4 and 2.4, developed by Monash University, Edith Cowan University and Charles Sturt University in February 2013 for the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.
In classrooms today it is expected that a student’s learning program will be planned with their current level of understanding in mind. This is particularly demanding in the case of the mathematics curriculum, with its focus on developing increasingly sophisticated and refined mathematical understanding, fluency, logical reasoning, analytical thought and problem-solving. It is with all of this in mind that 'smart tests' have been developed for use in year 5 to year 9 maths classes. A smart test is a specific mathematics assessment that reveals thinking. This assessment tool has been designed to give teachers information about the understanding of their individual students in key mathematics topics. These smart tests supplement, rather than replace, other forms of assessment. The most transformative use of smart tests in schools has occurred when they have been used to provide data on student understanding to a team of teachers working on curriculum improvement in their school. Smart tests can also be very helpful to professional learning teams with a focus on mathematics education and formative assessment.