Initial Teacher Education: Selection Criteria for Teacher Education Candidates

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1 Initial Teacher Education: Selection Criteria for Teacher Education Candidates Prepared by: The Australian Secondary Principals Association on behalf of the peak national principal associations June 2015

2 Introduction: On 6 th March 2015 the Presidents of the four peak principal associations wrote to John Hattie (Chair AITSL Board). In that correspondence they said: As a group, the peak associations have identified key recommendations from the review that we believe require essential input from practicing principals to provide necessary context and perspective. Broadly, these come under the headings of: Selection criteria for Teacher Education candidates; Teacher preparation, course content and specialization at all levels but particularly in primary schools; School based practicum; and, Induction of Graduate Teachers. In all of the areas we have highlighted, significant change and improvement can only be effected through the input and support of principals in schools. The practicum and induction into the profession occurs entirely within schools; not to involve principals in developing and implementing the changes would lead to a very low likelihood of success. To that end, we request that principals from all sectors and regions be involved in the AITSL working / reference groups responsible for developing and implementing the changes in these areas. Background to the Issue The Australian Secondary Principals Association (ASPA) has developed this paper on behalf of the four peak associations; the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) and the Catholic Secondary Principals Association (CaSPA). This paper draws upon submissions to TEMAG, the TEMAG Report, the Government s Response to TEMAG, the experience of principals and school leaders, association workshops and the findings of an ASPA survey of Australian principals. Whilst this paper has been developed by ASPA there is clear alignment of all peak associations on these aspects of the issue. Teacher Preparation: The attributes of effective graduate teachers. Recent developments in education are also reflected in feedback that calls for beginning teachers to: Rate highly in both IQ and EI (emotional intelligence), who exhibit compassion, empathy and generosity Be good communicators, with skills in listening as well as speaking, able to communicate effectively with parents as well as students Be able to collaborate with colleagues

3 Be willing and able to share their practice Have a knowledge of how learning occurs Be able to analyze student data to better focus on individual support and achievement. (AHISA Submission to TEMAG) Course Content: Graduate teachers must be able to teach literacy and numeracy effectively. ASPA expanded on the idea with these comments, Secondary teachers no matter what their learning area should graduate with: An understanding of how students acquire literacy and numeracy skills. (This area is currently not addressed or barely touched on for secondary trainees), A good awareness of the indicators of poor literacy / numeracy and when to investigate further, A skill with data disaggregation and a diagnostic approach to skill building Some skill in building student capability in these areas in an integrated subject approach, The ability to differentiate their curriculum and set individual learning goals for students and an understanding that this is a requirement of the job, A passion for improving literacy / numeracy outcomes for their students, and An understanding that all learning areas are responsible for literacy and numeracy outcomes. (ASPA Submission to TEMAG) Course Content: Graduate teachers need to know what to teach and have a repertoire of skills that allows them to select how to teach that content most effectively. Initial teacher education courses must introduce content and pedagogical knowledge and skills simultaneously. The content knowledge should be based on the Australian Curriculum and aim to provide pre- service teachers with a deep understanding of the principles that underpin each subject. Pre- service teachers should develop skills and understandings in various approaches to pedagogy during course work and practise those skills during professional experience. The balance between content and pedagogy should vary from subject to subject. For example, integration and social investigation would be significant topics in Humanities and less prominent in other subjects. There should be explicit instruction on how to teach literacy and numeracy in all content areas. Assessment and reporting must be an integral component of content and pedagogy in all subjects. In terms of content, primary teachers must have deep understanding of the principles that underpin the content in all subject areas while secondary teachers

4 require deep and extensive understanding in their chosen subjects. This difference must be reflected in the design of their courses. (APPA Submission to TEMAG) Selection Criteria for Education Candidates: In relation to the selection of entrants, the TEMAG report recommends that higher education providers: Select the best candidates into teaching using sophisticated approaches that ensure initial teacher education students possess the required academic skills and personal characteristics to become a successful teacher Publish all information necessary to ensure transparent and justifiable selection processes for entry into initial teacher education programs, including details of Australian Tertiary Admission Rank bonus schemes, forced offers and number of offers below any published cut- off Identify entrants who may need additional support to meet the academic requirements of the program, and provide them with targeted support to ensure all pre- service teachers have the academic skills needed to become effective teachers Use the national literacy and numeracy test to demonstrate that all pre- service teachers are within the top 30 per cent of the population in personal literacy and numeracy. The DRAFT Report - Guidelines for selection of entrants into initial teacher education identifies the following 4.1 Entrant selection criteria Entrants must demonstrate that they have the academic and non- academic capability to develop the skills required to meet the Graduate career stage of the APST at program completion Academic capability Research indicates that a teacher s academic capability, particularly cognitive ability and verbal reasoning skills, correlates positively with student achievement. Providers must use evidence- based selection methods to determine whether entrants possess suitable academic capability Non- academic capability Research indicates a range of attributes and motivations are common to effective teachers. Providers must use evidence based selection methods to determine whether candidates possess these attributes and motivations.

5 The report noted that the personal attributes, which determine future teacher effectiveness, have not yet been definitively determined and as such this is an area that would benefit from further research. However, a number of studies do exist that demonstrate broad similarities in their findings. The following list of desirable teacher attributes is derived from the existing evidence base: Strong academic skills particularly verbal and cognitive ability High overall level of literacy and numeracy Strong interpersonal and communication skills Willingness to learn Traits that buffer against adversity such as optimistic explanatory style, grit, and life satisfaction Self- efficacy Perseverance Conscientiousness Tendency to be social, warm and empathetic Capacity for self- regulation Resilience Organizational and planning skills. Research has also found that the motivations and expectations of prospective teacher education candidates can influence both their effectiveness and retention as a higher education student and ultimately a teacher. The following specific characteristics have been linked to teacher effectiveness: Seeing value in the teaching profession Perceiving themselves to have teaching abilities Being motivated to make a difference and shape the future Showing enthusiasm for working with children and adolescents. Intrinsic motivation to teach. Whilst research findings support the predictive validity of the various characteristics and attributes outlined above, it is important to note that no single attribute alone can effectively predict the success of a future teacher. Generally, the candidate would need to demonstrate a range of the above listed characteristics for there to be an accurate determination made about their potential to become an effective teacher. This is confirmed by Rockoff et al, who report that no single metric... has the ability to reliably identify very large difference in teacher effectiveness but that combined simpler measures of cognitive and non- cognitive skills can have statistically significant relationships with student achievement

6 Validity of selection mechanisms Domestically, universities employ a number of approaches for the selection of teaching students, some of which are common across institutions, and others that address more specific factors unique to individual providers. The decision to utilize particular methods is largely up to each provider, and may be based on a number of factors including practical considerations such as cost and resource investment; beliefs about the efficacy of particular methods over others; and biographical factors for cohort intakes such as SES or rural/ remote locality. Selection methodologies discussed in this appendix include: Selection tools Assessment centres and other multi- phasic approaches Portfolios Specific skills testing (e.g. literacy/numeracy testing) Measures of academic achievement (e.g. ATAR, OP, GPA) Interviews Written applications (e.g. essays, personal statements) References Auditions Psychometric assessments Assessment of prior experiences (teaching and non- teaching). The Report notes various advantages and a disadvantage of particular selection methods based on available current research, and is not intended to be exhaustive. It also notes that studies may be inconsistent in their findings, and that the volume of research is not comprehensive. The Report recommends that Initial teacher Education providers will need to undertake their own further investigation of the research to determine and justify their selection processes and the Associations support this. Current Practice School leaders across all systems and sectors were surveyed and questions asked related to the information presented in the DRAFT Report - Guidelines for selection of entrants into initial teacher education. Over 250 responses were received. The expectations of teachers in Australia to deliver high quality education has never been higher. Benchmarks on individual and school performance have been set through AITSL, teacher registration bodies, accreditation standards and jurisdictional assessments and consistently focus on quality teaching. While I take issue with frequent calls for 'quality teachers, which is implying we don't have them at present, I acknowledge it may also be making an aspirational call for

7 improvement in how our profession is seen by the community. When you look at our professional standards, there are clear implications for how we selection people at entry to the profession. (Respondent response) School leaders were asked to respond to the following prompts: 1. Please rank the following teacher attributes in order of importance (1 most important - 12 least important) Strong academic skills particularly verbal and cognitive ability High overall level of literacy and numeracy Strong interpersonal and communication skills Willingness to learn Traits that buffer against adversity such as optimistic explanatory style, grit, and life satisfaction Self- efficacy Perseverance Conscientiousness Tendency to be social, warm and empathetic Capacity for self- regulation Resilience Organizational and planning skills. Teacher Attributes Organizational and planning skills. Resilience Capacity for self- regulation Tendency to be social, warm and empathetic Conscientiousness Perseverance Self- efgicacy Traits that buffer against adversity such as Willingness to learn Strong interpersonal and communication skills High overall level of literacy and numeracy Strong academic skills particularly verbal NOTE: because of the rating scale (1 most important 12 least important) the lower the score the higher the ranking of the attribute.

8 Findings: Strong interpersonal and communication skills and Strong academic skills particularly verbal and cognitive ability are seen generally as the two most important attrubutes. o 85.14% of respondents rated strong interpersonal and communication skills in the top 3 (most important) o 54.21% of respondents rated strong academic skills particularly verbal and cognitive ability in the top 3 (most important) Willingness to learn (36.55% in the top 3) was next in importance Some respondents noted that all attributes were equally important in making up the whole teacher there is no 'most important' for every context. Rather, it's a set of skills that matter, and all of these count. You can't be a good teacher without all of these skills. (Respondent response) Recommendations: 1. Selection criteria should test a wide range of attributes. 2. Selection criteria should highlight the necessity for strong interpersonal and communication skills. 3. Selection criteria should highlight the necessity for strong academic skills. 4. An in depth analysis of the academic demands of teacher education courses and the Australian Curriculum be carried out to inform selection practice. 2. Are there any other attributes that you consider important? Respondents identified a number of additional attributes that they considered important for initial teacher education candidates. Able to work as part of a team collaborative Able to build relationships Emotional intelligence Flexibility and adaptability Desire to work with children A passion for your chosen field of expertise Love of learning and growth mindset Confidence Positive self esteem Commitment to educating young people to be the best they can be.

9 Creative problem solver Acceptance of diversity cultural competence Empathy Compassion Self reflective Sense of humour Moral compass Role model Capacity to understand and relate to the profession and the community in which they work Active listener A strong ethical framework - a person of integrity Broad and balanced perspective on life. Findings: Multiple respondents highlighted the importance of being collaborative and able to work as part of a team Multiple respondents highlighted te importance of being able to build relationships (staff, students, community etc.) Selection needs to be more rigorous and based on intellectual, psychological, and emotional intelligence of the individual. Emotional intelligence is seen as extremely important Recommendations: 5. Initial Teacher Training Institutions should consider the inclusion of emotional intelligence test such as the Mayer- Salovey- Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) as part of their selection process. 6. Research should be conducted to unpack what specific attributes really mean and what how they are determined in initial teacher education candidates.

10 3. How important are the following motivations and expectations for teacher education candidates? Motivations and Expectations for Teacher Education Candidates Moderately Important Essential 50 0 Seeing value in the teaching profession Perceiving themselves as having teaching ability Being motivated to make a difference Showing enthusiasm for working with children / adolescents Intrinsic motivation to teach Findings: In all cases the motivations and expectations were seen by over 90% of the respondents as moderately important or higher 86.75% of respondents considered seeing value in the teaching profession as essential in Teacher Education candidates 77.51% of respondents considered showing enthusiasm for working with children / adolescents as essential in Teacher Education candidates Perceiving themselves as having teaching ability was seen as the least essential motivation / expectation (41.37%) Recommendations: 7. The motivation and expectations of teacher education candidates are elements that should be incorporated in the selection process

11 4. Please rank the following selection methodologies for selecting teacher education candidates (1 most important - 9 least important) Selection Methodologies Assessment of prior experiences (teaching and Psychometric assessments Auditions References Written applications (e.g. essays, personal Interviews Measures of academic achievement (e.g. ATAR, Specigic skills testing (e.g. literacy/numeracy Portfolios NOTE: because of the rating scale (1 most important 9 least important) the lower the score the higher the ranking of the methodology. They need to meet each person face to face - do an interview to assess personality, a passion to teach and make a difference, interpersonal skills, able to be a team player, and reflect on practice and take on board constructive feedback etc - Giving reasons for wanting to teach (Respondent response) Findings: Whilst it was acknowledged that a range of selection methodologies was essential and often contextual (auditions for drama candidates etc.) interview was considered the most effective methodology by practicioners (76.3% rated it in the top 3) Recommendations: 8. All initial teacher education candidates should be interviewed as part of the selection process to determine their suitability for teaching.

12 5. Can you suggest any other methodologies that may be useful in selecting teacher education candidates? Have a close look at the recruitment process used by Teach for Australia. Although their process is for graduates, I think there are elements, which could be adapted to better screen candidates. (Respondent response) I believe a better way of assessing teacher education candidates is to assess them in the environment - that is, in a practice situation. That way the attributes can be tested on context. Have them work with a small group of students and see how they perform. Are they able to reach out and help them? (Respondent response) Findings: Classroom observation present a lesson Video presentation demonstrating a skill set UMAT type entrance exam School / classroom work experience Team challenge / collaborative activities to assess communication, interpersonal, team work and leadership capabilities Workshop activities - candidates can be assessed on how well they work with others, natural teaching ability (if activity designed well) and general interpersonal skills Teaching as a postgraduate course teachers need some life skills School based nominations from high school teachers who see potential in their students Evidence of working with children in the community in a voluntary capacity, with references to back up suitability to work with children Assessment in terms of suitability MUST have an interpersonal dimension. Emotional Intelligence is an imperative A week/fortnight in school prior to selection - two way benefit. Student decides whether teaching is for them, school can give some initial feedback. Recommendations: 9. More research should be conducted on the suitability of different methodologies in the selection of Initial teacher education candidates.

13 6. Should selection processes for all teacher education courses be the same? Should selection processes for all teacher education courses be the same? Yes No TEMAG recommendation 10: Select the best candidates into teaching using sophisticated approaches that ensure initial teacher education students possess the required academic skills and personal characteristics to become a successful teacher. This was assumed is assumed. Findings: There was no agreement on whether selection processes for all teacher education courses should be the same (49.8% yes; 50.2% no). It was considered that the focus for universities would be on outputs and how they would focus resources to ensure those outputs; this could be different in different universities. Recommendations: 10. Selection processes for initial teacher education candidates is not a one size fits all approach.

14 7. What recommendations would you make to universities when selecting teacher education candidates? I have been in the Education system for 20 years. In that time I have had a wide array of pre- service teachers. The quality and enthusiasm of those teachers has been in steady decline in the last few years. (Respondent response) Ensure that there is strong academic capacity blended with a desire to commit to the teaching profession and ongoing learning. Look at data from those who pull out or are unsuccessful, either whilst at University or in the first few years of teaching to see if there are any patterns that could be predetermined. (Respondent response) Findings: Secondary school leaders (in particular) believe that teaching should be a post graduate course. The first degree (speciality) followed by a Masters of Teaching should be the minimum standard. Instruction needs to be futures focused - University lecturers need to be teaching for tomorrow, not for yesterday Selection is a concern but also is how we filter their suitability as they progress through the course. Recommendations: 11. Engage experienced and skilled teachers and principals in the selection process to ensure: Contemporary input. Candidates understand that teaching has changed and the way they are taught is not the way they will be expected to teach. 12. Universities should review what makes a good university lecturer - they influence what the end product is. 13. Teaching should be a postgraduate course for secondary teachers. The first degree (speciality) followed by a Masters of Teaching should be the minimum standard. 14. Explore the structure of primary teaching courses so that they align with the proposed secondary structure of an Undergraduate Degree + Masters model. Such a course of initial education study would require that all students intending to teach in primary schools receive a comprehensive and early experience of practicum within and throughout both the undergraduate and post- graduate courses. 15. Fully evaluate current selection processes compared to outcomes and inform decisions about future processes.

15 Concluding comment In providing this discussion paper and the recommendations contained within, the peak principals associations demonstrate their ongoing interest in ensuring that Australian universities select the best candidates for initial education programs. All peak associations are committed to work with AITSL to implement the Government s initial teacher education agenda in ways that most benefit students and are helpful to schools. Indeed, high quality teacher preparation is viewed as vital for Australia s future as a successful country and cohesive society. High quality teacher education is vital for Australia s future and needs strong support at all levels.

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