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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 8 > Northern Territory education students burdened by literacy and numeracy testing

Northern Territory education students burdened by literacy and numeracy testing

Exam_web_qual.pngAspiring teachers in the Northern Territory will be forced to sit a literacy and numeracy test before graduating university.

Issue snapshot

  • All NT initial teacher education (ITE) students enrolling in courses from 1 January 2017 will be required to sit literacy and numeracy testing prior to graduation.
  • Test administered by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) on behalf of the federal government.
  • Timing of test critical should be at the beginning of commencing an education degree.

What’s the issue?

From 2017 the Literacy and Numeracy Test will become a mandatory requirement for all Northern Territory initial teacher education (ITE) students as part of university course requirements.

The test, to be administered by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), is designed to assess elements of an individual’s literacy and numeracy skills and will be used to demonstrate that ITE graduates are in the top 30 per cent of the population for literacy and numeracy.

The Teacher Registration Board, together with Charles Darwin University (CDU), will ensure that all applicants for ITE programs after 1 January 2017 will meet the new federal government requirement.

What’s happening?

Testing students’ language and literacy skills is not unusual in other professions and all educators should have high literacy and numeracy skills. 

However, the timing of these tests is critical.

Our union recommends the test should be given in the first semester of initial teacher training - not at the end of their course. 

The introduction of early testing should also have an emphasis on follow-up examination for at-risk students.

The Board has stated that testing is a retrospective requirement for the current group of ITE students.

While the Board encourages all current ITE student teachers to take the test, it will not be mandated for this group of student teachers as a condition of registration.

How will this affect members?

The plan for graduating teachers to sit a compulsory literacy and numeracy test at the end of their studies is questionable as it does not improve morale of practising teachers nor public perceptions of the profession.   

While it is desirable that students entering education courses have a record of high academic achievement, this in itself does not guarantee the student will be a good teacher.

Government and media rhetoric implying that those currently working in teaching are deficient in skills and knowledge fails to acknowledge the professionalism of practising teachers.

For more information, visit the Department of Education and Training website at www.studentsfirst.gov.au/teacher-quality 

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.