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Literacy and numeracy testing

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 4 December 2015
  • In response to news coverage of the trial of the literacy and numeracy test that new teachers will have to pass in the future, an edited version of the letter below was published in The Courier-Mail of Wednesday 2 December 2015. Underlined words were deleted and my heading was not used. Instead, the letter was one of four under the heading "Trainee teachers must master basic skills first".

Literacy and numeracy testing for prospective teachers

The new test for prospective teachers is intended to guarantee that teaching graduates are in the top 30 per cent of the population in personal literacy and numeracy skills ("Grapple for the teacher", Dec 1).

This is a commendable aim but I would like to be similarly assured that all candidates for public office are also in the top 30 per cent.

Come to think of it, a much cheaper alternative to expensive elections would be to have all candidates sit for a test designed to measure their capacity to serve the public good. The candidate with the best pass in each electorate would be awarded the seat. With the Australian Electoral Commission planning to close polling places to save money, perhaps it is time the test option was given serious consideration.

Garry Collins

  • On the same topic, the following letter was submitted to The Australian for publication on the same date but it did not make it into print.

Literacy and numeracy test for prospective teachers

Your story on the trial of the literacy and numeracy test for prospective teachers quoted Professor John Hattie, chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, as saying the results would put pressure universities "to improve their courses to ensure students were taught basic literacy and numeracy skills" ("Teaching students fail basic skills test", Dec 1).

This surprised me. Surely it is wasteful for universities to be required to devote time to teaching basic skills. Isn't that the mission of the primary and secondary stages of our education system?

For universities to function efficiently, students in all discipline areas should enter with acceptable levels of competence in basic literacy and numeracy.

Author: Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
Tags: Teacher education

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