Alarm at dis­mal teacher re­sults

The Observer - - NATION -

STU­DENTS with dis­mally poor high school re­sults are be­ing ac­cepted into univer­sity teach­ing cour­ses, set­ting off alarm bells about the qual­ity of some Aus­tralian ed­u­ca­tors.

The univer­sity sec­tor, how­ever, says low scores don’t tell a stu­dent’s full story and only rep­re­sent a tiny num­ber of teach­ing ad­mis­sions.

Fig­ures re­leased to a Se­nate in­quiry show one stu­dent was ac­cepted to a teach­ing course at a Vic­to­rian uni in 2018 with a score of 17.9 out of a pos­si­ble 99.95, while the low­est score ac­cepted at another in­sti­tu­tion was 22.1.

Fed­eral Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Si­mon Birm­ing­ham says Aus­tralians rightly ex­pect that school stu­dents are taught by the best and while scores are not ev­ery­thing, the data is alarm­ing.

“Our kids de­serve no less than high-qual­ity teach­ers, with high-qual­ity skills,” he told re­porters yes­ter­day.

Sen­a­tor Birm­ing­ham said the Com­mon­wealth, un­like state and ter­ri­tory govern­ments, does not have the power to set min­i­mum en­try scores. But it has in­tro­duced a lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy test that teach­ing grad­u­ates must sit to con­firm they have skills in the top 30 per cent.

He urged uni­ver­si­ties to only ad­mit stu­dents likely to pass the test, and asked states and ter­ri­to­ries to en­sure the test­ing is im­ple­mented.

Aus­tralian Ed­u­ca­tion Union pres­i­dent Cor­rena Haythorpe said a test at the end of a de­gree is “the wrong way around”.

“You ac­tu­ally need to know be­fore a per­son goes into a course whether they have those is­sues,” she said.

Ms Haythorpe said ed­u­ca­tors want the fed­eral govern­ment to take the lead on in­tro­duc­ing min­i­mum teach­ing en­try scores.

“There needs to be ac­count­abil­ity mech­a­nisms built in as well, so that uni­ver­si­ties don’t use back­door ap­proaches,” Ms Haythorpe said.


Vic­to­rian in­sti­tu­tions ac­cepted the two low­est en­try scores.

The univer­sity sec­tor has stressed that only 2 per cent of teach­ing stu­dents have an en­try score be­low 50.

Uni­ver­si­ties Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive Ca­tri­ona Jack­son said the low­est scores are “ex­treme out­liers”.

She said the per­sonal cir­cum­stances of those stu­dents are un­known and they may have suf­fered a tragedy in their fi­nal year of school.

“A young per­son who has lost a par­ent while try­ing to com­plete their fi­nal year of school, for ex­am­ple, shouldn’t be turned away from univer­sity,” she said.

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