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The Forum > Article Comments > Rankling in the ranking > Comments

Rankling in the ranking : Comments

By Nita Temmerman, published 30/1/2008

How adequate is the use of a student's academic performance at the end of Year 12 to determine how good a teacher they will make?

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'It doesn't mean that academic performance as an entry selection criteria isn't important...'

Given that the median OP in Qld is 12, it seems that less than a third of the students entering this program are in the top half of school leavers on achievement. This suggests that either this group is of very low ability, or that at school they had little interest in learning. Either way, this is not a promising foundation for becoming a teacher.

International recommendations suggest that teacher entrants should be in the top third of the ability range. If teaching is to become a strong 'evidence based' profession, there should be more emphasis on intellect, not less.
Posted by Godo, Wednesday, 30 January 2008 9:56:41 AM
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This is a very interesting area, and it appears that university entrance systems are becoming more and more confusing and difficult to understand (similar to many other areas of education)

I have heard directly from the head of a university art faculty that they no longer look at the art portfolio of a student when deciding who to accept into their art school, but now rely totally on the studentís OP score.

I have heard on the radio of a university that no longer carries out interviews of students who are applying to study medicine, as they have found that these interviews only took up resources, and had no real bearing on final outcomes.

Schools should not become an entertainment center for students, but a place to learn something, and it brings into question the reason why a certain teacherís training college runs a course in body massage, as a part of their teacher training.
Posted by HRS, Wednesday, 30 January 2008 11:01:41 AM
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The author is correct to state that academic ability should not be the only measure of a studentís aptitude to be a teacher. However there are a few observations I would like to make. Firstly, in Qld, you do not need a good OP score to get into education as evidenced by the authors example from USQ. Her survey had 40% of the students with an OP from 16 to 20. Thus almost half her students are in the bottom third of academic ability. Other universities also have minimal OP requirements to get into teaching so it is hard to make a case that we are discriminating unnecessarily against people with poor academic performance.

The statistics that the author presents are also unconvincing. It is hardly surprising that some OP 2 students are beaten by some OP 16 student. What we need is the averages for each of these cohorts to see if the OP is a good predictor of academic ability.

In addition the authorís survey does not measure the aptitude to be a teacher. It measures the aptitude to do an education degree. Most education degree subjects are a waste of time and divorced from reality, and thus success in this is hardly a measure of teaching ability.

This raises a very important issue. A huge barrier to getting good mature age people into teaching is the teaching qualifications required. If these qualifications were not mostly a waste of time, the situation would be tolerable. But why waste 3 years of your life? It would be better for us to go to an apprenticeship system where new teachers learn almost entirely at school on the job, being paid.

In the end however I do agree that especially for primary teachers, aptitude to teaching is more a function of personality than academic ability. However for some subjects it is very important that the teachers have good academic ability in addition to the required personality. I refer to the teaching of Maths, Physics and Chemistry in the senior years.

Peter Ridd
JCU Physics
Posted by Ridd, Wednesday, 30 January 2008 11:27:07 AM
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As an ex school teacher and as someone who supervised many teaching students, I think the academic standards for entrance to teaching have been lowered too far. It is a vicious circle; entry standards are lowered indicating that teaching is a less desirable and less professional option and because entry standards are lowered, it reinforces this perception. Pay teachers more and make it more of a professional career to attract the best and the brightest. After all do you want your children taught by the barely literate and numerate teacher?

While academic ability is not the sole indicatior of teaching ability, content knowledge is important as is an ability to work with pedagogy.
Posted by fancynancy, Wednesday, 30 January 2008 2:52:15 PM
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Peter Ridd,

Maths and science are not the only subjects in which teachers should have tertiary qualifications. English, history, geography, accounting, etc teachers should also have university degrees in those areas so that they know a great deal about the subjects that they are attempting to communicate to their students. The infiltration into secondary school of the idea that teachers donít teach subject but kids is a damaging one, which has led to large numbers of students being taught by teachers who simply do not know enough abut the subjects that they have been forced to teach.

My degree was in English, politics and history, but I was given junior geography in my last few years. I could read the textbook, but that is not enough for the more complex ideas or to have a mental picture of where the subject goes in the senior years.

Of course, the return of the open classroom to Victoria under the guise of the Leading Schools Fund has created even less acceptance in the need for teachers to have subject qualifications, so the issue is a real one.

Dr Ken Rowe of ACER has stated that there are 500,000 studies that prove students learn better when they actually taught. Unfortunately, fewer of them are now taught, and more of them are put into the one room to work on enquiry-based projects for a large part of the week with teams of teachers who do not have an adequate mix of subject knowledge and who regard the whole trendy program as nonsense.
Posted by Chris C, Wednesday, 30 January 2008 2:54:12 PM
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pretty pointless article. first, as everybody else is pointing out, the quality of the applicants by ANY measure is depressingly low. secondly, if the writer wants to make some claim about the over-emphasis on the OP, then they should provide meaningful statistics, rather than cherry-picked special cases.
Posted by bushbasher, Wednesday, 30 January 2008 9:23:36 PM
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