Teachers welcome new literacy, numeracy test

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Teachers have told SBS News a new numeracy and literacy test, which one in 10 teaching students failed, is important to maintain basic skills.

Teachers have welcomed a new test that will put the numeracy and literacy skills of teaching students under the microscope.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said on Tuesday one in 10 teaching students had failed the test, which was "concerning".

Mount Saint Benedict College first year teacher Miriam Gillett told SBS basic skills were essential, no matter what subject you taught.

"If teachers are writing resources, even writing on the whiteboard or in power-point, it’s showing examples and maintaining that standard and keeping it high," she said.

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"I think it's really important."

The government launched the new test to ensure future teachers were in the top 30 per cent of the population for literacy and numeracy. It's set to be rolled out nationally from July 1 next year.

A group of 5000 teaching students sat the pilot test, with 92 per cent passing the literacy test and 90 per cent the numeracy test.

She said some of her peers at university had appeared to struggle with basic literacy and numeracy skills.

"There was an incredibly diverse range of people - mature aged students, 19, 20 year olds as well," she said.

"The competency level varied immensely."

The Australian Education Union said the test was a band-aid solution to the problem that universities had been allowed to set the bar for entry to teaching degrees too low.

Senator Birmingham said he wanted to raise teaching standards and the status of the teaching profession.

"While the majority of initial teacher education students who sat the test passed, it is concerning that up to one in 10 did not," he said in a statement.

"We want to make sure that every parent, every principal, has confidence in the capability of teacher graduates in the future.” 

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He said the test results suggested some 1800 teaching students may have graduated across Australia without having met the new benchmark.

AEU president Correna Haythorpe said the test was no substitute for ensuring teaching courses were restricted to strong academic performers.

She said the problem would remain so long as universities could enrol unlimited numbers of students into teaching degrees.

"Teaching courses should be about turning high achieving students into high performing teachers, not helping students who struggled at school learn the basics before they enter the classroom," she said in a statement.

Mount Saint Benedict College principal, Maria Pearson, told SBS universities and schools needed to work in partnership to raise student performance and the standard of teaching courses being offered.

Source AAP, SBS News

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