Do we need minimum entry scores for teaching courses?

The Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) report into initial teacher education revealed a slump in ATAR scores – something the Australian Education Union (AEU) said “strengthens the case” for minimum entry scores for teaching courses.
AEU federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said the Federal Government had failed to address the key issues of minimum entry standards and the oversupply of graduates from teaching courses.
“Education Minister Simon Birmingham must follow the example of the NSW Government and put clear minimum entry standards in place for undergraduate teaching degrees, a measure which has the support of AITSL chair Professor John Hattie,” Haythorpe said in a statement.
“Previous Education Minister Christopher Pyne did nothing to address the decline in academic standards for entrants to teacher training – even saying that teachers could be great “regardless of ATAR scores”.
Haythorpe said Pyne “failed to stop universities enrolling as many students as they want” in teaching degrees, despite the growing number of graduates who could not find teaching work.
“Minister Birmingham needs to take action to fix a flawed system which is producing significant numbers of graduates who cannot get immediate teaching jobs, at the same time as we have chronic shortages of maths, science and language teachers,” she said.
The AITSL report revealed entrants to undergraduate teaching courses had lower ATARs than the average university student with:
•             Double the proportion of students with ATARs between 30 and 50
•             41% with ATAR 70 or less compared to 25% for other courses
•             30% with ATAR of 81 and over compared to 53% for other courses
•             9% with ATAR of 91 plus compared to 27% for other courses
Retention rate for students moving from first to second year had also declined from 77% in 2011 to 72% in 2012.
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.
“Entry scores for teaching degrees have dropped steadily over the last decade, and we have now reached a point where they are significantly lower than for other courses,” Haythorpe said.
“This is a far cry from successful school systems like Singapore which recruit teachers from the top 30% of high school graduates.”
HAVE YOUR SAY: Do we need minimum entry scores for teaching courses?