I’m not really one for stats and figures, but when I read the article Teacher Entry Rankings Tumble in a January 18th edition of The Age, my heart gave a skip and then ….. a thump.
What’s happening to the profession I’ve been committed to for my entire working career? Why is it that entry levels to teaching are being lowered? Why is it that teacher training institutions do not realize the impact that the lowering of entry levels has on the teaching profession at large? Why is it that there is such a discrepancy of required entry scores between universities offering teacher training programs?
Why do I lament so much? What’s in it for me?
It’s simple ….. I care.
- I care that students are being short changed.
- I care that top calibre candidates are not entering teaching.
- I care that teaching is not regarded as an attractive profession.
- I care that the best high school graduates are not being attracted to teaching.
Oh yes – I know well enough that entry level scores are not the only criterion for measuring a good teacher. Without a doubt, “good” teachers are defined by far more than a figure reflecting their academic performance. Empathy, understanding, patience, motivation and passion for teaching are essential characteristics for a successful teacher. But it is equally important that teachers achieve an acceptable level in their own quest for knowledge before they can be considered qualified to impart knowledge to students in their care.
Lowering the required entry level to teacher training programs sends a totally wrong message to prospective candidates. It also sends the wrong message to current teachers. And the flow on effect is the devaluing of education as a profession.
Consider what is really being said:
- To get into teaching, prospective candidates don’t have to be top achievers.
- Anyone can get into teaching.
- If a prospective candidates’ ATAR isn’t high enough for one institution, shop around – another is sure to take you.
- Entry to teaching is based only on ATAR scores. Other suitable characteristics are not even considered.
- If you don’t get into teaching in the current year, hang ten – trends indicate that the entry level is likely to drop next year.
- Current teachers know that it’s easier to get into education today than it was when they trained.
- Because entry standards are dropping, it’s clear that teachers today are less valued than they were yesterday.
- Teaching, as a profession, really isn’t valued very highly.
It’s no secret that the teaching profession is in turmoil. With low pay, hard hours and enormous demands from administrators, fellow teachers, parents and students it is no wonder that teachers of today do not stay in the profession for a long time. As the baby boomer bubble bursts and long serving teachers retire, younger inexperienced teachers are increasingly dominating our schools. With negative press about teaching coupled with lower entry standards, why would top calibre candidates ever be attracted to the profession?
The bottom line in all this is, of course, the students in our schools. How is it that Australian school students are going to achieve the kinds of standards we hear flaunted by our politicians? How is it that education standards in Australia are going to be raised? How is it that teacher training institutions are holding the reins on positive growth and development of the education sector?
Where is it all heading if ATAR entry levels are allowed to continue plummeting?
Something needs to change. Something needs to happen. Something needs to happen very soon.