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Controversial LANTITE test needs to change, report concludes

An internal government report has called for the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) to be held at the beginning of education degrees, so students aren’t potentially wasting their time.

In comes after revelations that almost one in 10 prospective teachers fail to pass the test so they can graduate.

Roughly 84 per cent of education students meet both the numeracy and literacy standards on their first attempt of the LANTITE, 11 per cent meet one of the standards, and five per cent meet neither, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“By following ITE [initial teacher education] students across all [five] possible test attempts, we can expect that, ultimately, 91 per cent of students meet both standards,” a report prepared by consultancy dandolopartners for the federal Department of Education said.

The report was completed in May and obtained by the SMH under freedom of information laws. The report also pointed to a correlation between ATAR entry scores and passing the LANTITE, although it admitted it was “weak”.

“Of the 18 [higher education providers] with an advertised ATAR of 70, the rates of ITE students meeting the standards range from 58 per cent to 94 per cent,” it said.

The report recommends that students sit the test before commencing their education degrees, rather than running the risk of not being able to graduate after passing all requisite units. It argues this approach would save students from wasting both time and money sitting the test (sometimes multiple times).

Further, the report contended that it would allow universities to focus on preparing students for classroom teaching, rather than preparing for a high-stakes test. The report also showed that this significant change was broadly supported by students.

“There was unanimous support from the nine focus groups we completed, including from ITE students who had easily met the standard and those who were not able to meet the standard,” it said, with only 10 per cent of students stating an entry test would discourage them from studying education.

“ITE students who were, or had struggled to meet the standard, and resent the uncertainty this presented ... would have preferred to establish whether the test was a barrier for them before investing time and money,” the report said.

Education Minister Dan Tehan, who has been a strong proponent of the test, said LANTITE was a matter for the Education Council and would be considered by the end of the year.

“The Commonwealth commissioned the LANTITE report and we think some of its proposals have merit," he said.

Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Rachel Wilson supports the proposals in the report, contending it would allow universities to identify students who would have difficulty passing the test before they begin their studies.

For professor Mary Ryan, president of the NSW Council of Deans of Education, the LANTITE disproportionately affects students with English as a second language or Indigenous Australian students.

“We want a diverse teaching profession to reflect the diversity in our classrooms,” she said.

“Of course, we want them to have good literacy and numeracy. We should be looking at other ways to demonstrate that.”

Ryan also warned that requiring students to pay for a test when they weren’t guaranteed of a place in a course would discourage students from embarking on education degrees, a worrying issue considering the “critical teacher shortage” she said.

“My recommendation would be if they don’t want to have LANTITE as a graduation requirement, that it should be required earlier in their program. They could require it by the end of the first year, that would make more sense.”

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10 comments

  1. Dr Donato (Don) Deieso

    I have been advocating to various bodies for such changes to be made for some time!! (See my 2 earlier opinion pieces in Education Review). The LANTITE needs to be administered BEFORE these ITE students even commence their course of studies. Fundamentally, achieving the LANTITE standard has to be a pre-requisite for acceptance into the University course!!

    The various bodies i.e. ACER, ACDE, TRB, many politicians, vice chancellors etc. have all been asleep at the wheel and have largely been dismissive and lacking compassion in relation to the students affected by the ‘retrospective’ application of the LANTITE requirement especially in South Australia!

  2. The current arrangements effectively hold teaching students to ransom after they have already completed 3+ years of their degree, after they have invested so much in their learning, their future vocation and financially (HECS debt and working part time while being a full time student). At the very least, they should be allowed to graduate if they have met university requirements (rather than currently bring unable to complete their final 4th year semester until they have passed Lantite).

    • This is currently me, I have now waited 2 years since 2018 when I graduated, and I am still unable to teach. This is because of a math test that I believe does not show my proficiency at all. I currently work as an education assistant and on a daily basis use mathematics to help students. To get into University many years ago I had to sit an English and Maths test as a mature age student to demonstrate my ability to gain entry, Further my Undergraduate degree had high-level mathematics units such as Biomechanics and chemistry. How is this not enough for me to show I am more than proficient in this area? I might also add that My scores at university were within the 85% bracket and I believe myself to be a very capable teacher. I feel lost how am I supposed to push forward with my career if there is no way around this test.

  3. John Mcwhirter-Whitlock

    I do not support the Lantite test, all it does is test a students literacy and numeracy skills and nothing else. The big problem is that a student can do really well and pass the Lantite, but be unable to teach, while a student who has failed the Lantite but is able to be an amazing teacher and inspire their students to learn. Lantite is a failure and in the long term the big losers are going to be the children as they will have teachers who know how to pass Lantite but are unable to teach and miss out on those teachers who have that ability to relate and teach students well, but cannot because they could not pass the Lantite test. The reality is the Lantite test is purely a money making scheme.

  4. John McWhirter-Whitlock

    I think the education minister has no understanding of the needs of students at school.
    The very big problem with Lantite is that it only tests the persons literacy and numeracy skills, nothing more. What the minister and advocates of Lantite fail to see is that Lantite does not test the real need, the ability to teach. The person can ace the Lantite test, but absolutely fail as a teacher, they do not relate to the students and are unable teach. Yet the person who fails Lantite can be the best teacher, relate to the students and engage them in learning.

    • Hello.
      I agree fully with John’s comments. My partner is in the same position as Kieran. She has been the Principal/Owner of a phsical movement school for the past 10 years with hundreds of 5 to 16 year old students. She deals with children constantly. She has finished everything of her Degree at Charles Sturt University however, because of LANTITE only she is not allowed to graduate. She has done extra modules and all she could. She has worked at a local school as a Teaching Assistant for over 2 years with excellent results and is a valued member of the school staff. She feels embarrassed and demoralised over the situation LANTITE and the University have put her in. She re-sat the LANTITE test and has fallen on the lower side of the Literacy pass line again only. I made enquiries myself and spoke with a person in the Department of Education about the test. I was told that the pass quotient for the test is reliant upon how many sat on the day and is calculated off an mean aggregate. To my mind this a “floating” pass level evey sitting and would change depending on who sat, how well they went and how many sat that time. A seriously bias and unfair system. That has caused grief, financial loss and loss of career opportunity and longevity. I am sick of it for her and all the others ..hundreds in the same predicament. It needs correction and the bungling of the system to stymie that is offensive.
      In my job I deal with motorists constantly. I relate an example to John’s comments. People that can pass a driving test are not ideally capable of controlling a motor vehicle on a road. The over-representation of negative statistics for fresh drivers demonstrates this.
      The LANTITE test is farcical. “Star Chamber” behind closed doors bureaucratic nothings are a joke and only revealed through Freedom of Information efforts. Collectively, all affected must combine to force change.
      The injustice of LANTITE must be corrected for the sake of all subject to Education in this country in the past present and for the future.

      • Moderator…..to preserve privacy, .please remove my name from my last reply. Leave initials only.
        Thanks.

        • Hi, I’m not sure if we can do this but I’ll try and reply. If I can’t, would you like me simply delete the comment?

          Cheers

  5. The question that needs to be asked – if we consider that teachers should possess levels of personal literacy and numeracy broadly equivalent to the top 30% of the population – are there better ways than the LANTITE test to make that judgement?.

    This question seems to be off the table.

  6. Perhaps Professional Development units in Literacy and Numeracy could be developed by each state’s education department. This would allow ITE to complete these required tests while still being able to graduate and find teaching positions. In these units there could be a supporting video to explain each section, showing a worked example and some varying practice tests according to the topics within the test. The test should not have a set time limit which would help subdue the angst that comes with performance under a timed test. Furthermore, this is no feedback to help students improve with the current testing system. Tested areas under Literacy or Numeracy could be broken down into smaller topics to be completed over the first 12 months of teacher employment. Similar to compliance training, child protection training, First aid training and MARAM training etc when a teaching job has been secured. This would also allow all teaching professionals to update their knowledge, rather than just the current PST. The current Lantite test does not take a holistic approach to solving the teacher shortage nor the view of supporting PST future wellbeing, which is another crisis evolving. A forum should be developed for opinions and thoughts to be expressed. Afterall, we learn best in a social setting. Theorists have evidence based research for learning in a social context.

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