The State Government is proposing to strengthen the selection criteria for entry into initial teacher education (ITE) courses.
In a Ministerial discussion paper - Working Together to Shape Teacher Education in Victoria - the Government sets out a reform package consisting of higher academic standards for course entry, the development of a Victorian teacher admission index/selection framework, a suitability to teach tool to assess non-academic qualities and the expansion of employment-based pathways.
It also states that it will "consider" introducing a graduate only entry to teacher education courses.
The paper outlines the need for changes to course entry to ITE because of a steady decline in ATAR scores. Entrants to teacher education courses with an ATAR of less than 50 doubled over the past four years. Students with low ATARs are less likely to complete their courses.
While only a minority (23.4 per cent) enter via ATAR, the scores are highly visible and prominent in media reporting. Research has shown that perceived low entry scores reduce course attractiveness to high achievers, have a negative impact on community confidence and adversely affect the status of teaching as a profession.
The paper is short on details about any specific threshold level for entry via ATAR. It indicates that either ATAR scores or VCE achievement could form the basis for any new requirements.
New South Wales introduced new prerequisite standards of entry into accredited teacher education courses for 2016 using HSC results. It requires a minimum standard of three Band 5 (80 - 89%) HSC results, including one in English.
The discussion paper, in line with national reforms to be introduced in 2017, calls for the inclusion of non-academic attributes and capabilities associated with effective teaching in selection criteria. The national (AITSL) capabilities include: motivation to teach; strong interpersonal and communication skills; willingness to learn; self-efficacy; conscientiousness; and organisational and planning skills.
Melbourne University is already using the Teacher Capability Assessment Tool as an add-on to student academic results.
Whatever selection criteria are chosen, they must ensure that disadvantage is not a barrier to entry and that candidates reflect the diversity of the Victorian community. The paper is concerned about the standard of some pathway and bridging courses into ITE and calls for a review and possible accreditation of these courses through the VIT.
The other pathways offered in NSW are: passing bridging units benchmarked to a Band 5 HSC result; enrolling in an accredited degree and passing a full year of academic studies in the subjects you will teach; or completing a NSW BOSTES (Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards) approved alternative entry pathway.
Other proposals canvassed in the Ministerial paper are:
- A broad-based Victorian Teacher admission index or selection framework (see example below);
- An expansion of employment-based pathways such as Teach for Australia, Melbourne University internships and career change options;
- Common practicum assessment tools linked to the Australian Professional Standards for all courses to help teachers assess ITE student performance;
- Support for a "capstone" teacher performance assessment for graduating ITE students (ie a multifaceted final academic assignment). This is presently being used by Deakin University;
- A more consistent statewide approach to induction and mentoring.
The Deans of Education in Victoria are concerned about the impact of new standards for teacher education entry on enrolments. University education faculties are squeezed between pressures (including financial) from a demand-driven university access system and national and state demands for higher entry standards.
The AEU will make a submission to the Government about the issues in the Ministerial paper.
The State Government will announce its changes to ITE at the end of 2016 for implementation in 2018.