Transparency needed in teacher recruitment: The smoke may be clearing in the ATAR battle

ACER recently reported that:

In recent debates about ATARs we have lost sight of what matters most in teacher recruitment: selecting high-quality candidates to ensure a strong profession, says Lawrence Ingvarson.

NSW Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli has been accused of ‘attacking students with shameful elitism’ with his plan requiring new teachers appointed to NSW government schools to have attained a high standard of English and Mathematics at Year 12. Recent evidence suggests several of our universities might instead be accused of shameful opportunism in their teacher education offers, showing little regard for the public interest or the teaching profession.

Time to face the fact: low ATAR scores is a problem

In 2015, while 68.5 per cent of all offers for university places were made to Year 12 applicants with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of at least 70, only 42 per cent of teacher education offers were made to Year 12 applicants with an ATAR score of at least 70. The number of entrants with ATAR scores less than 50 has more than doubled over the past four years.

Similar numbers apply to students who applied post Year 12, and we should not be taken in by academics who argue that the rising numbers of non-Year 12 entrants obviates the problem. Most non-Year 12 applicants also have an ATAR score, even if universities do not use these in determining non-Year 12 applications, and the profile of their scores is even worse.

Over the past 10 years, we have reached a point where almost everyone who applies now finds a place in a teacher education program. Over the same period, Australia’s performance on international tests of student achievements has declined significantly.

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