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Secret ATAR report ordered destroyed

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A secret report showing that students with low ATAR scores are being recruited into Initial Teacher Education (ITE) was reportedly ordered destroyed by the University of Sydney.

According to media reports, the confidential report revealed that some prospective teaching students had an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) that was as low as zero to 19 – far below the Federal Government's official data.

The report allegedly said, in NSW and the ACT in 2015, students who scored in the bottom 50% of school leavers made up half of all those offered places in teaching degrees.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that reports of low ATAR standards for university teaching courses were troubling.

“We are gravely concerned that the University Sydney reportedly ordered this report to be destroyed,” Haythorpe said.

“We need high-quality teaching and learning programs in our schools. This is a matter of public interest and the report should be in the public domain.

“Universities have opened their Initial Teaching Education programs to students with low ATARS,” Ms Haythorpe said. “However we know that students admitted with low ATARs are less likely to continue with their course, and there is a clear correlation between ATAR scores and success at university.”

Ms Haythorpe said that low university entry scores for teaching degrees was a growing issue.

“Entry scores for teaching degrees have dropped steadily over the last decade, and are now significantly lower than for other courses,” Haythorpe said.  “Figures from Victoria show that the average ATAR of a student entering a teaching course in 2016 was 57.35, down from 63.4 in 2013.”

She said teacher training standards had to be raised by setting minimum entry requirements across the nation and by making teaching a post-graduate degree.

“We must address the drop in ATAR scores for undergraduate teaching courses by setting minimum entry requirements and in the long term making teaching a two-year post graduate degree - then you know people who enter the course have already passed an undergraduate degree.

“NSW has put clear minimum entry standards for teaching students in place, while Victoria will have a minimum ATAR benchmark of 70 for teaching courses from 2019. This trend should be followed by all states and territories.”

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