The Union has supported the next generations of teachers coming through the various ITE programs and therefore wishes to highlight a new feature to be integrated into these formative and essential steps to entering the profession.
In March this year the Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham released a statement announcing the opening of the National Literacy and Numeracy Test for preservice teachers across Australia, to be completed before they graduate from a recognised teaching degree. According to the Minister, the test, to be conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), “will ensure Australian children are taught by educators with literacy and numeracy skills in the top 30% of the population.”
The test itself must be completed before graduation and “will be delivered flexibly and available to students through a mix of physical testing centres and online delivery.” The statement highlighted that “92% of the students who sat the pilot test last year passed the literacy component and 90% passed the numeracy component”.
Universities and their curriculum are within the federal educational sphere, though in NSW, the Board of Studies and Educational Standards (BOSTES) also have legislated powers to oversee and endorse teaching degrees and their delivery. Universities are therefore in the same complex and shifting world of policy and regulation that schools traverse, whereby national and state priorities and demands are mounting, sometimes conflicting, and not always utilised for the benefit of teachers, students or parents.
The Union’s view is that the experience of initial teacher education should be formative, supportive and inclusive of the range of those who successfully enrol. Our position is that the test should be undertaken in the constructive spirit in which university education works best, including being taken in the first year of the course so that any issues can be highlighted, remedied or otherwise addressed quickly and fairly for all parties.
The Union has reservations about the cost of the program: ACER is to charge $160 per test and it is not yet clear who will foot the bill. The IEU hopes that all universities will adopt the best practices demonstrated by some in NSW, in which the university pays the cost without passing it on to the student.
The Union is respectful of universities to choose the method and manner in which they implement the national requirements and look forward to working constructively with them to support our preservice teacher colleagues. We also acknowledge that there are more requirements than ever before on entrants to teaching degrees, due to changes implemented by the NSW Minister of Education and BOSTES.
Preservice teacher members need to be cognisant of the changes, those in NSW or ACT who have questions about initial teacher education (ITE) or ongoing teacher qualification requirements and accreditation, email email@example.com
Birmingham, S., 7 March 2016, Media Release: Teacher test registrations open today
BOSTES, Initial Teacher Education, http://www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au/great-teaching-inspired-learning/blueprint-for-action/initial-teacher-education/