Teachers face testing time

NEW Tasmanian teachers must have literacy and numeracy skills in line with the top 30 per cent of the population as part of a national teaching agreement.

In response to questions about the literacy and numeracy levels of teacher graduates in the state, Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said there were already standards in place in Tasmania.

It comes as the New South Wales government this week announced it would begin trials of comprehensive online literacy and numeracy testing of prospective teachers.

Those wanting to start an education degree in NSW must also have attained above 80 in at least three high school certificate subjects, one of which must be English.

The NSW government's rationale is that by lifting teacher quality, student learning is improved.

"The Education Department is working closely with the Australian Institute for Teaching School Leadership and the Australian government's teacher education ministerial advisory group and the University of Tasmania, to continue to develop initial teacher education and continue to improve the overall quality of our teaching workforce," Mr Rockliff said.

Australian Education Union state president Terry Polglase said he would welcome extra testing like that being introduced in NSW to ensure the best quality of teacher fronted the classroom.

"It's a fabulous idea - we're interested in having professional and competent teachers, and we want the brightest and best in front of our classrooms, if we haven't got them already," Mr Polglase said.

He said places like Hong Kong and Finland already set a high benchmark for people to enter teaching degrees - ranking in the top 10 per cent of graduates - so it made sense for Australia to do the same.

Comment was sought from the University of Tasmania yesterday.

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