AITSL The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

ITE Data Report 2014

ITE Data Report 2014 - Margery Evans, Chief Executive Officer of AITSL, 10 November 2014.

I think it was Mark Twain who talked about statistics and damned lies. Yet, regardless of your view about what the numbers tell or don’t tell us, there is no doubt we now live in a world where the collection and reporting of data plays an increasing role in our personal and professional lives. Data often helps to answer questions, as well as and possibly more often, raising new questions.

Regardless of your perspective, data remains key to building understanding and making informed decisions.

AITSL takes data seriously. Commencing in 2013, we have been collating and reporting annually on data related to initial teacher education in Australia. Our Reports bring together a range of publicly available data about initial teacher education programs, applicants, students and graduates.

Our 2014 report, has just been released. It covers information on commencing students, program characteristics, course completions, ATAR breakdowns, retention rates, graduate and employer satisfaction and employment rates as well as providing detailed information about ITE programs by institution.

In my opinion the 2014 report reveals an interesting range of data facts that shed light on, and raise questions about, initial teacher education in Australia.

For instance, did you know that:

  • There has been an 8% increase between 2011 and 2012 in the numbers of commencing students in ITE programs. That’s about 2,000 students. Think about the implications numbers like this have on the provision of school-based professional experience as well as how a new wave of graduates has the potential to refresh our profession.
  • Only around 20% of commencing students were domestic undergraduate entrants who were admitted on the basis of their school education and had an ATAR. This makes me wonder about what other sorts of evidence universities have used to make sure the remaining entrants were prepared for the rigours of a teaching course.
  • 50% of primary graduates, 48% of secondary graduates and 35% of early childhood graduates were employed full-time in schools within four months of graduation. Even more interesting is that overall employment rates for education graduates are similar to other degrees.  What we haven’t yet collected data on is how many of these new teachers were employed on a permanent or ongoing basis

One data fact that I find particularly interesting is the time series of commencing students by ATAR band. The time series shows that the percentage of students entering initial teacher education from higher ATAR bands has decreased since 2005, while the percentage entering from lower ATAR bands has increased.

Obviously ATAR does not reveal the whole story, and nor should it:

  • Important point one: anyone in the education game, including students and parents, knows it is the combination of academic ability along with the capability to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to support student learning and engage with the teaching profession that make a great teacher.
  • Important point two: ATAR is only one measure of academic ability and is not used by all institutions as the basis for admitting students. An ATAR score certainly doesn’t apply to those students entering with other qualifications or as mature aged students. However, bearing these considerations in mind, the story told by the ATAR data is important because it suggests a possible shift in the types of people choosing to enter the teacher profession. For this reason alone patterns in ATAR scores are something worth paying attention to and investigating further.

So to return to my central contention – it’s important and a huge step forward that we do have data about initial teacher education available in the one place and it’s important to remember that even the most comprehensive data sets won’t explain every situation or answer every question, and that’s why I’m left pondering what the increase in student commencements really shows. Is this related to the uncapping of higher education places or does it reflect increased interest in teaching careers? What about the shift away from education for students with a higher ATAR? Is this related to possible negative perceptions of teaching as a profession?

At AITSL we see these questions as a good thing. Asking questions and investigating answers can only promote discussion and contribute to the knowledge we have about teacher education in Australia.

Comments

Submitted by Robyn Lockwood (not verified) on

There is no doubt education is within the realms of one of the most important & significant realignments Australia has seen . The renumeration in regards to other higher "people" professional domains, lags, especially in view of the more recent increase in workloads, pedagogical PD & expectations. I worry a little when more experienced teachers at the coal face still have little input to balance the research and pedagogical shifts (perhaps non metro impacts on this). The current forays into lifting our profession to new heights are wonderful but I think many teachers feel that there is a frustrating disarray of who is pushing what...lift academia, personalise learning, write up every communication, realign problem solving within learning intentions and that doesn't cover one tenth of a teacher's world and external requirements. For the first time in 20 plus years, I teach where RFF is now largely PLC's and despite all the wonderful pedagogical shifts..which I totally support, the fact is that organisational classroom based tasks for great teaching is further pushed into family time. I work every night and a large chunk of weekends and many many days every school term break. I also worry about the impact that life in general is having on K-6 children. I feel the world of academia is at risk of further robbing our very young learners of their fleeting childhood. We need to be careful we are not in the game of minimising humanities in response to the data game. It still remains that many people who have changed the world are the movers and shakers outside just excelling in the academic world. I believe our pedagogical shift is on the right track...but teachers have more to do, to document, to mark, to report on, to prepare, to liaise about with parents, executive, co workers and the need to continually upskill and become practised at new learning of which technology is a huge part...to be able to seamlessly embed such skills into daily teaching. Lift the profession, lift expectations, we are a great country with what can and should be...and is on track to be a world first education system...but the success must come down to supporting the professional teachers. Lift the expectations, expect the very best from us...help us to educate 21st century learners. .. millions of dollars are being commendably spent in achieving this, yet there are to me, two absolutely critical aspects requiring a concerted re-evaluation:1) time within a week or a fortnight that teachers have for genuine classroom management, marking, planning that in some educational domains is being eroded by more PLC'S in that time instead. Our "head bucket" cannot continually have things tipped into it to tick someone else's box if there isn't head space other than late at night or in what should be family time early of a morning. For young teachers prior to having families this is achievable. ..most will go onto have families with wonderful supports to have their children and reenter the workforce. It's when we re-enter the workforce and attempt to balance the quite huge demands of an absolutely wonderful profession with our own families whilst maintaining a healthy mental and emotional state that deserves some consideration.
2) For all the talk, research and shift towards schools as learning communities, involvement of parents encouraged and a genuine partnership within education, we have in most instances, a long way to go. Many teachers especially some new to the profession can still have an "us and them mentality" with regards to this area.
There are no PR skills or "customer" based skills taught pre teaching. ..and being mentored at prac's is questionable...who mentors the mentor...which can have a huge determination on preservice teachers. I am fortunate to be highly skilled in this area due to being brought up in a very successful P.R skilled based family business.
We are despite all else a people business...a families business in educating our young people in consultation and communication (now that word underpins every success or failure in every facet if life) with their families. Preparing the most valuable resource our wonderful country has, with another most valuable resource. ..our teachers!

Submitted by Georgina C (not verified) on

Thank you Robyn, these are the same thoughts I have swimming in my head daily. With a young family at home and working part time I genuinely worry and wonder how on earth I will manage it all once I return to full time work. The new expectations seem to be only achievable by those without families at home. I currently wake at 4am each day in order to reflect, plan, and to keep up with my reading and research. I do more every evening. From the research I have seen coming from Asia, teachers from countries such as Hong Kong have half their working day released from face to face time in order to mentor, be mentored, research and to plan lessons. In Australia it seems that this aspect of change is being ignored, though to me it is the absolute most essential aspect of improving teacher quality. Stress, lack of sleep, pressure and a feeling of sinking in the new demands of the profession is going to push many wonderful teachers (particularly those with families at home) to having to leave the profession. I think that more time can easily be found each day in school but our leadership teams need to look at this issue with some urgency. Whether it be combining classes for certain subjects, having floating relief teachers, more shared teaching classrooms, etc. People outside of the classroom seem to ignore the reality that from 9-3 when everyone else is at work 'working' teachers at at work 'teaching'. For teachers to be great they must be afforded a balance with their working lives and their home lives. The current situation, though fantastic for students and the profession as a whole is unsustainable if schools aren't going to change significantly their internal practices in order to support teacher learning in school hours.

Submitted by New graduate teacher (not verified) on

With so much emphasis being place on "teacher quality" it's about time we all rejected the martyrdom of the teaching culture. It might actually turn us into professionals. I agree with your position on the workload of teachers. Teachers are indoctrinated to become martyrs (because the work we do “matters”). But the idea of OH&S (which includes mental and emotional health) is non-existent. Pyne? Teachers Federation, are you listening?
The interpersonal and relationship demands of classroom work coupled with intellectual demands of assessment and preparation, and reporting, are also unique to the work of a teacher. Teachers are only human.
As a mature graduate who already has a family, I see the future of teaching as a prison of overwork. I want to quit before I have begun.

Submitted by Dawn Lang (not verified) on

Robyn's comments on the lack of training for pre-service teachers in 'customer service' or PR skills is right on the mark, though I would categorise these as skills of social and emotional intelligence. The 'us and them' mentality is alive and well in many schools, not just with some teachers but also with too many in leadership positions. The latter group is of particular concern since they are responsible for setting school culture and tone, including genuine acceptance that parents are partners in education. Some new and even experienced teachers will feel apprehensive about meetings with parents; school leaders need to provide the support, mentoring and skills development necessary to build teachers' capacity to work with parents. In such a people focussed profession, it is quite astounding that development of social and emotional intelligence is not an automatic part of pre-service teachers' preparation and an essential quality for aspiring leaders.

Submitted by Mrs M. (not verified) on

Yes- young wonderful capable staff given huge tasks and responsibilities question why experienced teachers are not sharing the load. Lots of "leaders and coaches" NOT in the classroom, class sizes larger and a plethora of experts-having planning/flexibility/ PDs/working off site/"fluid timetables". The school is groaning with the complex school reports, and the teacher time on this multiplied by each school is overwhelming-time taken away from actual teaching. After I post this, I will do substantial hours on reports and loose another weekend-my kids know I am in lock down :-(. Ditto my colleagues!
I am fortunate to have worked both outside education and at many schools over 25 years, but the demands and expectations are certainly not healthy, and the rewards are intrinsic with kids high fiving you as you greet them! No wonder "leaders and experts" get out of the classroom.
End of rant-thanks for the forum AITSL-back to AusVels>

Submitted by Kyle (not verified) on

Great comments Robyn. Everything you pointed out is very true. I thoroughly believe that all education department's hearts are in the right place and genuinely want the best for students, however the workload for teachers and administrators is overwhelming. The sheer amount of resources and strategies are overwhelming.

Education is completely different from what is has been at any time in the past. Students are different, family dynamics are different, what parents expect of school are different, behaviour is different. The next 10 years will be telling and the meaning of education and outcomes will no doubt shift.

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