Uni stands firm as teacher degree criteria questioned
A BRISBANE university is standing by its low minimum threshold for teaching degrees but experts say the academic standards for teachers still need to be higher, claiming the courses are among the "easiest to get into".
Australian Catholic University's Executive Dean of Education Professor Elizabeth Labone said all of their Brisbane campus students "met the requirements set by the Queensland College of Teachers".
"Most students who enrol in teaching degrees in Queensland have a selection rank over 70," she said.
"Students in all teaching disciplines must also pass academic and non-academic capabilities criteria to continue and complete their degree."
It comes after The Courier-Mail revealed Queensland school students could receive offers into education degrees at ACU and the Christian Heritage College with OPs of 17.
However, Grattan Institute School Education Program director Peter Goss said "teaching is the easiest, broad subject area of study to get into at university and it shouldn't be".
"Teaching is a complex job, it requires strong cognitive abilities as well as the emotional skills to relate to the children but unfortunately the academic backgrounds of new teachers has been dropping for forty years and has continued to drop even over the last decade," he said.
He echoed calls for higher standards to become a teacher, noting that they would be teaching the future generation.
"In general the better you do at school the less likely it is that you'll choose to become a teacher," he said.
"We need to make it attractive as a career choice for high achievers, more of them will then choose teaching, that will get competitive juices flowing and the standard will naturally rise."
Centre for Independent Studies' education program director Dr Fiona Mueller said more rigorous entry standards were needed, especially with a literacy and numeracy test at the beginning of university.
"We shouldn't be teaching adults to read and write at the same time," she said.
"The role of the university is to make sure graduate teachers are experts in their relevant subject areas along with competence and confidence in literacy and numeracy - not addressing deficits.
"The other absolutely essential ingredient in high performing systems - we need to set very high nationally agreed standards in all subjects from Kindy to year 12 and ensure teacher training is aligned to those."
Teaching graduates currently have to pass the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teaching Education Students and a teaching performance assessment.
To gain entry to tertiary teaching degrees, school leavers must have achieved a C or higher in English and mathematics in year 11 and 12, and submit personal essays supporting their motivation and capability to teach.
ACU's Professor Labone said she said "most students" who enrolled in teaching degrees in Queensland had a selection rank over 70, equivalent to an OP of 14.
"ACU continues to ensure we meet the relevant accreditation requirements."