Concerns about the validity and fairness of the LANTITE test continue as two prominent academics in the education sector have commented on how the current Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) is administered.
In a meeting with several students who have been unable to graduate after failing LANTITE components, Associate Professor David Zyngier from Southern Cross University said it would make more sense for the test to be administered by each jurisdiction’s teacher registration board.
This, of course, would still prevent such students from teaching, but it would at least allow them to graduate and use the qualification in other fields. This is the case with Sammantha Hutchinson, a social worker whose education degree was intended to strengthen her career prospects in her current field.
Zyngier said the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) – which conducts the LANTIITE tests – “have a pecuniary interest in people failing” as the test costs roughly $200. He was also critical that students with disabilities are not receiving the adjustments they require.
What also came out of the meeting was the fact that there is no official pass mark for both components of the test: whether a student passes or fails is determined by the students with whom they are sitting the test.
In discussing how passes and fails are determined, senior lecturer at Monash University Dr Melissa Barnes said: “I think it’s quite a complicated process.
“And that’s why when you look at scores it can be quite confusing about why people are passing.”
Zyngier also added that some students will inevitably fail the test/s due to the test’s design.
“That’s the benchmark,” he said. “ [ACER] are only going to take the top 90 per cent.
“The pass mark will go up or down to maintain ‘quality control’.
“It’s certainly very complex. I don’t understand it. I don’t pretend to understand it.”
The convener of the meeting, Elizabeth Diacos, said she “found it astounding that universities were able to pass people all the way through until they get to this point”.
“If this is a quality control issue, should people be able to get to the very last moment of their degree – having passed all the way through – and then fail this test?”
Diacos went on to say there is obviously a disconnect between how universities approach testing and quality control in their courses and how ACER approaches testing.
At that point Zyngier chimed in to say that an increasing number of education courses around Australia are accepting students with ATARs under 50, which will only compound the failure rate.
“Now, many of these students do not come from first in family or Indigenous groups or rural groups. They are just bums – literally bums on seats,” he said.
“And they are not going to pass.”
Barnes contends that universities needed some level of accountability by supporting their students to prepare them for the test. For this reason, she said that Monash University tests and thoroughly prepares prospective education students in their first year to maximise their chances of success.
“Some universities haven’t done this, and they haven’t done the best thing by their students,” she said.
“I don’t think many universities wanted this extra hurdle, but what happened from a policy perspective was that there was a need to show that [the government] was doing something in teacher education to make sure we have high standards.”
Diacos then floated an idea that has regularly been expressed by students and commentators: Why not make the LANTITE part of the university’s entry requirements?
Zyngier disagreed immediately, saying it would “exclude a whole lot of people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds...students who are first in family, regional and remote students, and Indigenous students".Do you have an idea for a story?
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