Saturday, July 21, 2012

Education Degrees Not ‘Cheap and Easy’: Pyne is Wrong on Teacher Training

Hi Readers,

Here is a very interesting article on the teacher training debate here in Australia which has recently been sparked again by Christoppher Pyne. What's your views on this? Please leave a comment.

by Tony Loughland, Senior Lecturer in Education at University of Sydney, The Conversation:

Opposition Education spokesman Christopher Pyne’s comments to the Sydney Institute this week provoked a new debate on teacher training.

Most of the educational community would agree, and have for at least the last decade, that teacher quality is the key to improving educational outcomes.

The educational community also tells me quite often, as a teacher educator, that I need to improve our teacher education courses so that our graduates might survive and thrive in the incredibly complex and arduous workplace of schools and classrooms.

There is always room to do better. But Pyne’s comments of “cheap and easy” education degrees attracting poor quality entrants to teacher education are inaccurate and insulting to all of the outstanding young people that I have the pleasure of teaching in both graduate and undergraduate education programs.

Pyne’s statements are also inaccurate because ATAR cut-offs only reveal part of the picture. Politicians of all persuasions have used the outlier minimum ATAR scores rather than considering the mean, median and maximum admission scores.

Yet the mean, median and maximum ATARs attracting offers to all of the University of Sydney’s Bachelor of Education degrees in 2012 were, respectively, 84.82, 86.32 and 99.75.

Even with the removal of Federal Government quotas allowing more students to study teacher education, in part to counteract the predicted shortfall in key teacher numbers, the lowest ATAR for admission to the University of Sydney’s teacher education programs was 80.3.

Even when considering the fact that entry scores for other institutions are slightly lower, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) already has a policy response in place.

Teacher education courses are accredited on the basis that they will produce graduates that have attained “levels of personal literacy and numeracy … broadly equivalent to those of the top 30 per cent of the population”.

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