Alarming figures have revealed that some students with ATARs below 20, have been admitted into teaching degrees, raising concerns on the competence of teachers.
Figures released on August 12 showed one student was accepted to a teaching course at a Victorian university in 2018 with a score of 17.9 out of a possible 99.95, while the lowest score accepted at another institution was 22.1.
However, father of four-year-old Archer, Chris Atherton argued that low ATAR scores do not tell a student’s full story or their capabilities.
“I think that lower ATAR results, or scores on a piece of paper don’t really reflect a students’ ability to teach,” Mr Atherton said.
Mr Atherton said every student and their learning is different and therefore some students might not suit an approach which just follows the textbook.
“A lower scoring student might also be better at teaching as opposed to a higher ATAR student, as they might have gone through their own learning difficulties and therefore have their own experience and teaching views that they can implement,” he said.
What some may seem as alarming, Mr Atherton believed that teachers who are incompetent won’t survive in their career.
“If teacher’s are not adequate then they shouldn’t be able to get a job, or they won’t be able to maintain their job,” he said.
“I think I’m more concerned about the repercussions of those who have worked hard and received high ATARS and become teachers, as I think there could be a lot of internal conflict between them.
“I think the best thing in this situation is student feedback; you could have the highest scoring teacher in the country but they might not get the best feedback from the students.”
John Pratt, from Wagga’s Teachers Federation argued that teaching needs to be viewed as a profession for high-achievers and not a “fall-back” career.
“We need to raise the status of this profession; we see medicine or law as professions for top-ranking students and teaching as a fall-back position, which should never be the case,” Mr Pratt said.
“To change this, we need to increase the teaching salaries, make this profession more attractive so top-end students enter these courses.
“We need to make teaching conditions far better and focus on teaching children for the 21st century to be seen as a profession that requires highly educated, highly respected and capable people.”
Mr Pratt said he is “appalled” to hear these figures and argued that universities are taking advantage of high enrollment numbers.
“This is a sad reflection on university practices, whereby they’re using teaching entries as a cash-cow through receiving high levels of income through an influx of students admitting into these courses,” he said.
“Unfortunately they have no conscience when it comes to ensuring the outcome is a capable, qualified and professional teacher at the end.”
According to a Charles Sturt University spokesperson, all of the accredited initial teacher education degrees advertise 65.0, out of a possible 99.95, as the minimum ATAR entry score.
“Teaching is not a career for everyone – so both our course entry criteria and the requirements of each subject in the degree ensure that the students studying to be teachers will be skilled and competent to foster student learning when they graduate with a CSU teaching degree,” a CSU spokesperson said.
“Upon acceptance of an offer into teacher education at CSU students are provided with access to an on-line literacy and numeracy skills builder which allows students to take an on-line test to identify any areas they might need further work in, and that then links them to learning modules aimed at developing specific skills they need to concentrate on;
“Students don’t enter teacher education degrees as fully formed teachers. Instead, as lifelong learners they learn to become teachers over the course of their degrees and into their careers.”
The CSU spokesperson said the university offers a range of support services to ensure their literacy and numeracy levels are among those of the top 30 per cent of the population.
Students in CSU teaching degrees also have a compulsory minimum number of placement hours at school settings, “to put into practice what they have been studying in the university classroom”.