The Australian | 13 December 2012
University education faculties and state education departments have been singled singled out to shoulder some responsibility for the shockingly poor results for Australian primary students in international reading, maths and science tests.
The tests reveal that about 25% of students in Year 4 failed to meet the minimum standard while students’ results in maths and science have stagnated during the past 16 years.
Kevin Wheldall, a leading researcher in the teaching of reading, accused university faculties and education departments of stubbornly refusing to accept the evidence of the most effective way to teach reading.
Wheldall, a member of the national inquiry into the teaching of reading in 2005, says the inquiry had stated precisely how it should be taught.
It’s not the kids’ fault, it’s not the teachers’ fault, it’s the fault of the teacher education faculties and educational bureaucrats. They have been resolute in their determination to ignore all the advice they have received about how to teach reading effectively. It’s infuriating.
Federal education minister Peter Garrett also questioned the training provided to teachers while at university. Garrett says state governments have “a lot to answer for” and the results raise “a very big question about the level of training and competency” in university training for teachers.
It’s crystal clear that turning around our performance needs to include a strong focus in our teaching training standards. We want students to be in courses that give them the confidence and understanding of their subject area . . . and we want only teachers that have demonstrated that they are more than capable in the classroom graduating from our universities. Obviously this is not happening in every training course.
Australian Council of Deans of Education president Brenda Cherednichenko says the results require further investigation to understand what was happening in schools and how to improve the teacher education system. She says teacher education has never been more evidence-based in terms of the way it structures the pedagogy of teaching in the classroom, that’s been a growing theme for 10 or more years.
Gonski review member Ken Boston suggest results are largely the outcome of having one of the most socially segregated school systems in the world.
We have the Gonski solution and then we need to pour the money into what happens in the classroom and the quality of teaching. Teachers must be better supported to shape the learning experiences for individual children . . . and they need much better professional training, especially based in their own schools.