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.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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