Sensationally, the report was released to the ABC by its author, retired professor John Mack, after the University of Sydney ordered it to be destroyed.
AEU head Correna Haythorpe said that the AEU was “gravely concerned” by the university’s decision to destroy the report.
“We need high-quality teaching and learning programs in our schools. This is a matter of public interest and the report should be in the public domain,” she said.
The report revealed that students who scored in the bottom 50 per cent of all school leavers made up half of those offered places in ACT and NSW teaching degrees.
“Universities have opened their Initial Teaching Education programs to students with low ATARs,” Haythorpe said.
“However we know that students admitted with low ATARs are less likely to continue with their course, and there is a clear correlation between ATAR scores and success at university.”
Haythorpe said that low ATAR scores for teaching degrees was a growing issue.
“Entry scores for teaching degrees have dropped steadily over the last decade, and are now significantly lower than for other courses,” she said.
“Figures from Victoria show that the average ATAR of a student entering a teaching course in 2016 was 57.35, down from 63.4 in 2013.”
In addition to minimum entry requirements, Haythorpe called for teaching to be made a postgraduate degree.
“We must address the drop in ATAR scores for undergraduate teaching courses by setting minimum entry requirements and in the long term making teaching a two-year postgraduate degree, then you know people who enter the course have already passed an undergraduate degree,” she said.
“NSW has put clear minimum entry standards for teaching students in place, while Victoria will have a minimum ATAR benchmark of 70 for teaching courses from 2019. This trend should be followed by all states and territories.
“We want to have confidence that when teaching students finish their Initial Teacher Education course they are well prepared to meet the graduate standard.
“This means they need to spend their time at university developing and understanding the curriculum and their skills to teach students, not focusing on personal remedial programs such as literacy and numeracy support.”
Stay tuned for our Cover Story on teacher training and quality, which features in the October issue of Australian Teacher Magazine due to hit schools this week.