Lift­ing teach­ing stan­dards to im­prove re­sults

The Australian Education Reporter - - NEWS: NATIONAL - EL­IZ­A­BETH FABRI

AUS­TRALIAN pri­mary school teach­ers have a lot to learn from high-per­form­ing school sys­tems over­seas, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by na­tional re­search and pol­icy in­sti­tute Learn­ing First.

The Aus­tralia’s pri­mary challenge: how to lift teacher qual­ity in early school years, re­port com­pared Aus­tralian ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards to those in Finland, Ja­pan, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and out­lined ways the coun­try’s sys­tem could im­prove to boost re­sults.

“Aus­tralian stu­dents have not im­proved their achieve­ment on in­ter­na­tional tests for a decade, and are fall­ing be­hind stu­dents in many other ad­vanced na­tions,” the re­port stated.

“In maths, the pro­por­tion of high per­form­ers in PISA has halved to 11 per cent over the past 14 years, and low per­form­ers out­num­ber high per­form­ers two to one.”

The re­port found aca­demic per­for­mance, par­tic­u­larly in the early years, was heav­ily in­flu­enced by a teacher’s deep un­der­stand­ing of the con­tent as well as ped­a­gog­i­cal knowl­edge on how to ef­fec­tively teach the sub­ject.

THE RE­PORT FOUND ACA­DEMIC PER­FOR­MANCE, PAR­TIC­U­LARLY IN THE EARLY YEARS, WAS HEAV­ILY IN­FLU­ENCED BY A TEACHER’S DEEP UN­DER­STAND­ING OF THE CON­TENT AS WELL AS PED­A­GOG­I­CAL KNOWL­EDGE ON HOW TO EF­FEC­TIVELY TEACH THE SUB­JECT.

“Ac­quir­ing both forms of knowl­edge is more im­por­tant and more dif­fi­cult than many peo­ple re­alise,” it said.

“Yet op­por­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralian teach­ers to do so, par­tic­u­larly in pri­mary teacher ed­u­ca­tion and pri­mary schools, are scarce.”

Learn­ing First said is­sues stemmed from”un­s­e­lec­tive” teacher pro­grams in Aus­tralia and the “gen­er­ally not strong” sci­ence, lit­er­acy and maths ex­per­tise of prospec­tive pri­mary teach­ers.

“One way for sys­tems to im­prove teacher sub­ject ex­per­tise is to as­sess can­di­dates and se­lect only those pre­pared with the great­est knowl­edge,” it said.

“Ini­tial teacher ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams in Aus­tralia are not con­sis­tently se­lec­tive so are not trusted as putting up a high bar­rier to en­try to the pro­fes­sion.”

It said new lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy tests for teacher can­di­dates had re­cently been in­tro­duced as a way to raise the bar, set­ting min­i­mum stan­dards for teach­ers to en­sure the least knowl­edge­able can­di­dates weren’t in class­rooms.

“This is im­por­tant, yet the min­i­mum stan­dards ap­proach may have two prob­lems: it does not cre­ate in­cen­tives for de­vel­op­ment past min­i­mum stan­dards, and it does not pro­vide dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing in­for­ma­tion to the sys­tem on teacher can­di­date qual­ity (aside from bi­nary pass or-fail data),” it said.

Early re­ports how­ever showed that about 5 per cent of teacher can­di­dates who failed these tests, were still en­ter­ing the class­room with pro­vi­sional reg­is­tra­tions.

It said one strat­egy that united the four in­ter­na­tional sys­tems was the op­por­tu­nity for teach­ers to de­velop a deep knowl­edge in just one or a few sub­jects.

At­trac­tion to the pro­fes­sion was also a fac­tor, raising the ques­tion if teach­ing was more com­pet­i­tive with higher univer­sity en­trance scores and bet­ter salaries, would it draw in higher qual­ity can­di­dates.

“Ma­jor struc­tural changes to how ini­tial teacher ed­u­ca­tion providers are funded and reg­u­lated would be nec­es­sary in or­der to cre­ate uni­formly high ad­mis­sions re­quire­ments in Aus­tralia’s rel­a­tively dereg­u­lated sys­tems of ini­tial teacher ed­u­ca­tion,” it said.

Learn­ing First said for teach­ing stan­dards to im­prove ed­u­ca­tors must have a deep con­tent knowl­edge and ped­a­gog­i­cal knowl­edge.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.