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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Report asserts fall in teacher aptitude levels

The academic aptitude of new teachers has fallen over the past two decades, according to the new report How and Why has Teacher Quality Changed in Australia? The report, by economists Dr Andrew Leigh and Dr Chris Ryan at the Australian, combined six surveys that measured the literacy and numeracy of school students when they were aged about 14, followed them into their mid and late twenties, and recorded their study and career choices. It found that between 1983 and 2003, the average percentile rank of those entering teacher education fell from 74 to 61, while the average rank of new teachers fell from 70 to 62. See ANU media release, 27 August 2006. The head of teacher education at Edith, Professor Max Angus, has rejected the findings. See ABC News report, 28 August 2006. See also article in The Age, 27 August 2006 and commentary in The Australian, 28 August 2006. The Australian Government and the federal opposition have proposed merit-based pay for teachers as a means to address this issue, but the move has been rejected by a major parents’ group. See update article in The Age, 28 August 2006 and commentary by Professor Stephen Dinham in the Sydney Morning Herald, 31 August 2006.

Strong demand for teaching course from high-scoring school leavers, says Sydney Uni

A survey conducted by Sydney University's education faculty shows that more than half its new students had chosen to study teaching despite having the marks to study engineering, arts, science or medicine. See report in The Australian, 29 August 2006.

Changes to Tasmanian curriculum

The Tasmanian Education Minister David Bartlett has announced changes to the State's curriculum. From 2008, the current 18 key elements of the curriculum will be replaced by seven renamed curriculum areas. Primary students will be assessed against State standards in the areas of English/Literacy, Mathematics/Numeracy, Science and Technology and Society and History. Secondary students will be assessed in the areas of English/Literacy, Mathematics/Numeracy, Science and Technology, Society and History, and Arts. See Ministerial media release, 29 August 2006.

Principal queries tertiary entrance scoring system in Queensland

Queensland's OP (overall-position) system of tertiary entrance for Year 12 students has been questioned by Stephen Paul, head of John Paul College and one of the State's most experienced secondary principals. See report in the Courier Mail, 30 August 2006.

Financial incentives for new maths and science teachers in Tasmania

Tasmanian Education Minister David Bartlett has announced the State Government will provide further employment incentives to maths and science graduates by offering permanent teaching positions with advanced placement on the teacher salary scale. Maths and science graduates will be offered permanent jobs worth up to $60,000 straight from university and have access to scholarships that pay off their entire HECS debt from next year. See Ministerial media release, 30 August 2006.

Pope 'prepares to embrace intelligent design'

A meeting of intellectuals close to Pope Benedict is to discuss a potential shift in the Vatican's view of evolution. The Pope raised the issue in the inaugural sermon of his pontificate, in which he stated that humans 'are not the accidental product, without meaning, of evolution'. See article in The Guardian, 27 August 2006.

Repeating school has no benefit: study

Making a student repeat a level at school has no benefit and in fact may do more harm, according to a new study by Dr Helen McGrath of Deakin University's Faculty of Education. In the report of the study, To Repeat or Not to Repeat?, she describes findings that students who repeat a year are 20 to 50 per cent more likely to drop out, compared to similar students who progress. Problems of repeating students include boredom, lower self-esteem, loss of contact with friends who have gone on and stress at physical differences to their new classmates. Dr McGrath also argues that simply allowing struggling students to move up a year will not help them. She calls instead for better methods of identifying learning problems at the pre-school level, and providing specialist individual support. The report has been published in the WAPPA journal Words. See article in Sydney Morning Herald, 30 August 2006.