While written with the Northern Territory and Australia in mind, I would suggest the thrust of this paper has tenability in other systems.
TEACHER TRAINING – NEW DEVELOPMENTS REVISIT THE PAST
Training our teachers of tomorrow is a matter always uppermost in the planning minds of universities and education departments. Parents everywhere know that good teachers make a difference. Teachers who build student confidence and commitment toward learning, are remembered for decades into the future.
Academic aptitude is important. That is why students selected to train as teachers should be people who have done well in their own secondary years of education. While relatively low tertiary entrance scores were sufficient to allow students into teacher training programs, this is no longer the case. The Federal Government is keen to attract trainees who have finished in the top 20% of Year 12 students as prerequisite for training to teach.
Most recently, it has been determined that preservice teachers should pass literacy and mathematics competency tests that have been developed by the Australian Council of Educational Research. These tests will be mandatory for students who commence training from the beginning of 2017. They are recommended, but optional, for pre-service teachers who have started training programs but have yet to complete their degrees.
Test details are available online at https://teacheredtest.acer.edu.au/
The first tests will be on offer to those who register between 16 May and 6 June this year. It will cost student teachers $185 to sit the tests. Included on the ACER site are sample questions in both Literacy and Maths. I would recommend those interested visit the site and study these sample questions. Results will be widely circulated to universities and departments of education.
The model of teacher education has changed over time. Until ten years ago, the focus for teachers on practice was to be visited and advised on teaching methodology by university or training college lecturers. While lecturers still visit, the emphasis is now on quality partnerships between ‘Teaching Schools’ and universities. Teachers on practice work with students, supported by classroom teachers who are their advisers and mentors. In each teaching school, a member of staff is appointed as Professional Learning Leader (PLL). The PLL supports both mentors and students. Pre-service teachers benefit from the chance to learn about programming, planning and the application of teaching methodology in classroom contexts. A tutorial program is part of this approach. Assisting student teachers to understand testing and assessment requirements including test administration and recording results is included in this focus.
Part of that change is directed toward helping new teachers understand and meet graduate standards set by the NT Teachers Registration Board. Results of literacy and maths competence will now be included in registration requirements.
Given that maths, spelling, language, listening, speaking and reading tests were part of training programs in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, this is in some respects a ‘back to the future’ initiative. It will be an important victory change.