AMSI believes that AITSL has the opportunity to improve the learning outcomes in mathematics for Australian children through the implementation of this national system of accreditation.
It is generally accepted that there are too few trained secondary mathematics teachers in Australian schools and that the decline in advanced mathematics enrolments in senior secondary schools has both to do with the quality and availability of trained teachers. The national system of accreditation must act as an instrument to improve the Australia’s stock of trained secondary mathematics teachers at the same time being cognisant of the short to medium term shortage of suitable graduates.
In Australia the mathematics discipline knowledge of primary school teachers and their exposure to mathematical pedagogical content knowledge is not uniform. Minimum requirements need to be set which transcend the type of pre-service education qualification held by teachers. AITSL’s accreditation system should reflect current best practice and rectify the features of some existing programs which are known to produce under prepared primary teachers.
AMSI’s response to the proposal is two-fold. The first is to elaborate our vision and the second is to identify what we perceive are shortcomings in the document.
1. Secondary teaching
In order to teach year 11 & 12 mathematics graduates of pre-service programs must have a 3 year undergraduate sequence leading to a major in mathematics or statistics (50% of total third year enrolment). Statistics must be represented in this sequence with a minimum of 2 subjects (each 1/8 of an annual load), at least one of which must be at second year level. Mathematics must be represented by a minimum of 5 subjects, at least one of which must be taken at third year level. All of these subjects must be taught by the provider’s mathematics and statistics discipline. In addition, graduates must take at least one subject of mathematical pedagogical content knowledge as part of a full year’s study in education. This may be part of an integrated 4 year program or as part of a 3+1 year degree plus graduate diploma-type combination.
This requirement will place significant pressures on the supply of mathematics graduates and should be phased in over 5 years with a significant recruitment effort by governments.
In order to teach secondary mathematics to year 10 graduates of pre- service programs must have at least 2 subjects at first year and 2 subjects at second year in mathematics and statistics including at least one statistics subject and at least one second year mathematics subject. The education year requirements are as for year 11 and 12 already outlined above.
2. Primary teaching
Pre-service programs should be 4 or 5 years in length. It is our view that the combination of an undergraduate degree containing no mathematics or statistics with a one year graduate diploma in primary teaching is generally not viable because it is not possible to teach the required mathematical pedagogical content knowledge in a one year graduate diploma. Preferential entry into graduate diplomas should be given to applicants with qualifications involving English, mathematics, science and ICT.
We concentrate here on the 4 year undergraduate program commonly identified as a bachelor of (primary) education. Conventional entry from year 12 must require a 70% percentile score in any year 12 mathematics subject or equivalent. “Equivalent” here means that at the end of the first year of the program the student must have passed the compulsory mathematics content subjects in the program (see below). This means that the effective entry requirement is satisfactory completion of non-terminating year 11 mathematics subjects.
The 4 year program itself must contain 2 subjects of mathematics content, identifiably tailored to the knowledge requirements of primary teachers, at least one of which must be taught in the first year. These subjects should be delivered in conjunction with the provider’s mathematics and statistics discipline centre and are the subjects referred to in the paragraph above. In addition, the program should contain 3 subjects of mathematics pedagogical content knowledge.
We won’t address the aspects of the proposal which are at odds with our vision. The most significant difficulty we have with the document is that it does not give clear and unequivocal answers to questions of the type “What program of undergraduate study must be undertaken by a prospective year 11 & 12 mathematics teacher?” At least some of the state-based institutes of teaching have regulations which do provide answers to these questions and AITSL needs to provide a schedule serving this purpose.
The alternatives at item 1.3 on p15 of a three + two undergraduate degree and graduate entry professional qualification and a combined degree program of four hours are at odds. It is unlikely that prospective teachers will undertake a five year program when a four year one is available.
We support the continuation of one year secondary graduate entry professional qualifications (DipEds). Further articulation into a 2 year masters qualification involving workplace professional learning is desirable.
The 60 day teaching practice requirement in the graduate entry programs is too great in a one year program. We suggest 45 days.
There should be academic representation on the national accreditation panels.
21 October 2010