Future teachers improving in literacy and numeracy: Birmingham

Education Minister Simon Birmingham says the results are extremely encouraging. Katina Curtis/AAP

Some 94.5% of teaching students sitting this year for a new test have met the required standard for literacy, and 93.1% have met the numeracy standard, Education Minister Simon Birmingham says.

Birmingham released the results a day after the latest school NAPLAN results showed flatlining.

From July 1 this year all teaching graduates are expected to meet the test standard before graduating.

Birmingham said more than 7,500 initial teacher education students had sat or registered to sit the test, designed to ensure teachers’ personal skills in literacy and numeracy are in the top 30% of the adult population.

The test is one of the evidence-based quality measures the government has taken up following the teacher education ministerial advisory group’s 2014 recommendations. It has been endorsed by all state and territory education ministers.

The latest results are better than a 2015 trial of the test involving 4,138 candidates, when 92.3% met the literacy standard and 90.5% the numeracy standard.

Birmingham said the results were extremely encouraging. “Today’s results are an improvement on the voluntary trial that was run last year and shows through this ‘laser focus’ on literacy and numeracy that our new teachers are graduating with better skills that they’ll then be able to pass on to students to lift the education outcomes of future generations.”

While 3,910 teaching students had sat the test in the first window in 2016, some states and territories needed to do more to encourage their students to complete the test, to ensure they could be registered on completing their studies, he said.

South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland still had hundreds of teaching students close to graduation who had not completed the test. Birmingham has written to state education ministers and relevant university vice-chancellors to promote the test’s completion.

“The need for this test was highlighted last year during its trials when nearly one in ten of the initial teacher education students who sat the test did not meet the expected minimum standard,” Birmingham said.

He said the latest NAPLAN results showed a mix of results with an increase in reading scores across the country of 0.40% since 2013, a fall in writing scores of minus 0.20% and a rise in numeracy of 1.26% across all year levels. Over the same period federal school funding had increased by 23.7%. This highlighted why it was “more important than ever to focus not just on funding but evidence-based, quality reform,” Birmingham said.