Responses to ATAR outrage

The news gods abhor a vacuum so it was filled on a quiet weekend with stories of people with woeful ATARs being admitted to teaching degrees.

TEQSA explains: Outrage ensured and it was left to the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency to remind everybody yesterday that the half of undergraduates who do not start university straight from school, don’t enter on their ATAR.  Even so, TEQSA added that it was having a look at universities who admit people with abysmal ATARS to teaching courses .

Good-o, but there is another performance measure that universities will focus on – the government’s compulsory literacy and numeracy tests that all teacher education graduates must pass before qualifying for the classroom.  Universities can reasonably argue that what graduates can do at the end of a degree matters more than what they started with – the results of the 2017 tests, (CMM April 23) go a way to making that case.

Deans complain: The Australian Council of Deans of Education also responded, which was unusual, deans generally keep their heads down during ATAR-outrage-athons. But it seems that they have had enough. ACDE chair Tania Aspland (ACU) pointed out that there are many reasons why a few people with unrepresentatively low ATARs are accepted into teaching.

Selective use of data and unfortunate comments made by those who wish to advance their own agendas continues to detract from our ability to attract quality candidates into teacher education. It also further demoralises those already in the profession or those undertaking demanding courses to become future teachers,” she added.

Lloyd declaims: University of South Australia VC David Lloyd did not have much to say about the ATAR yesterday, but what he said yesterday was well said. “We must move towards an education where the assumed truths of information are constantly challenged, such as the assumed truth that a standardised year-12 examination is in some way a predictor of future academic potential or achievement.”


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