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Education and Employment Legislation Committee
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership


CHAIR: I welcome officers from AITSL. Do you have an opening statement?

Ms Evans : No. We can move straight into questions.

Senator O'NEILL: I have a couple of questions to clean up some uncertainty there might be in the public around the nature of the literacy and numeracy assessment of teachers upon graduation prior to securing work. There was a recommendation in the TEMAG report that students need to undergo this literacy and numeracy test. Could you explain what the current status of that reality is. I am pretty sure, from my experience and understanding of the field, that it is already in place.

Ms Paul : No. Since last time we spoke, the field trialling around the literacy and numeracy test has been completed. There were approximately 1,300 teacher training students who completed that test.

Senator O'NEILL: When did that trial—

Ms Evans : That trial took place right across Australia. Those students were taken from universities right across Australia. The trialling was about testing the validity of the items. That has been completed. As recently as last week, a benchmarking exercise was undertaken to identify the cut score. If you remember, the purpose of the literacy and numeracy test is to test that students can achieve in the top 30 per cent of the population for personal literacy and numeracy. That benchmarking exercise has been completed and we are now in the process of refining that. ACER are doing that. We have contracted them to do that work. They are now in the process of refining that benchmark and developing a technical report to go with that.

Senator O'NEILL: Can I just go to the timing of this. There has been a consideration of this in the public for some period of time before TEMAG's report. So what was the timing on this?

Ms Evans : We were asked to deliver that test and the benchmark by the end of February, and we expect to be able to do that.

Senator O'NEILL: When were you asked to commence this? When did this work actually commence?

Ms Evans : Under the previous government.

Senator O'NEILL: When did that happen? When under the previous government were you asked to do this work?

Mr Misson : The instruction came in a letter from then Minister Garrett that is dated 1 May 2013.

Senator O'NEILL: That is quite some time ago. You undertook that process that you have just outlined to the committee.

Ms Evans : Yes.

Senator O'NEILL: So this work had been in train for some period of time prior to the recent announcement by the minister.

Ms Evans : That is correct. It is quite a complex process to develop the test items and trial those and then go out to a major trial and then refine the benchmark. Under the original instruction, we were required to have this work delivered by the end of February. We believe we will be able to make that deadline.

Senator O'NEILL: The minister answered a question in parliament on 23 February this year by saying:

They will have to introduce a literacy and numeracy test for undergraduates which they must pass before they are able to graduate from a teaching institution, before they can get licensed.

So this was nothing new? This was something set in train by Minister Garrett?

Mr Cook : There was never a decision to implement. The decision of the previous government was about beginning some work. I do not believe Minister Pyne is totally correct in saying that this will now be a requirement. It will go into the standards. It does not currently exist in the standards.

Ms Paul : It was not made a requirement before.

Mr Cook : You do not have to do it now. Mr Pyne has said that universities will have to do it, so it will become part of the revised standards.

Senator KIM CARR: Is the Commonwealth responsible for teacher registration?

Mr Cook : Teacher registration is a state and territory responsibility.

Senator KIM CARR: Then how can the minister require—

Mr Cook : Because that is part of the national standards that the states and territories agreed to. So states and territories will be part of this process of agreeing.

Senator KIM CARR: Do they have to agree individually through COAG? What is the process?

Mr Cook : It is through the Education Council, which is always the case.

Senator KIM CARR: Will that be a condition of funding?

Mr Cook : That is a decision for government. I am not aware—

Senator KIM CARR: I am just wondering what the enforcement mechanism is.

Ms Paul : As Mr Cook said, the Education Council or its equivalent has always set standards for—

Senator KIM CARR: So there will be a new test for all graduates. Is it graduates or pre-graduates?

Mr Cook : It is before they graduate.

Senator KIM CARR: So to graduate—

Mr Cook : They need to have passed.

Senator KIM CARR: they need to have passed this particular test?

Mr Cook : Correct.

Senator KIM CARR: What is the enforcement mechanism?

Mr Cook : The enforcement mechanism is through the accreditation authorities at a state and territory level. That is based on the national accreditation standards which all states and territories agree to.

Senator KIM CARR: What date will this be applicable from?

Mr Cook : 2016.

Senator O'NEILL: When was it scheduled to start?

Ms Evans : Our obligation has always been to provide the test and the benchmark to the Commonwealth department. The Commonwealth department are taking responsibility for working through the implementation of the test.

Senator O'NEILL: But you have been working towards the 2016 goal for some period of time.

Ms Evans : We have been working towards the requirements to deliver the test to the Commonwealth department by the end of February 2015.

Senator O'NEILL: How many students were involved in the trial?

Ms Evans : Approximately 1,300.

Senator O'NEILL: Yes, that is what I thought you said. How many teaching institutions were engaged?

Ms Evans : There were a range of teaching institutions. One of the things we have done under the ethics of the test trial is protect the names of the students and the names of institutions. But a range of institutions have been involved right across Australia.

Senator O'NEILL: Was any information about this trial and the progress you were making in developing it shared with TEMAG in their consultation?

Ms Evans : TEMAG was certainly aware that the trialling and development of this test was in place, yes.

Senator O'NEILL: You shared that information with them in the course of their inquiry?

Ms Evans : We did.

Senator O'NEILL: In what form and when did you do that?

Ms Evans : AITSL had in place a consultative committee with Universities Australia and with the deans of education. Professor Craven was the chair of that consultative committee along with the chair of the AITSL board at the time. Professor Craven was certainly aware of that process. During our consultations with TEMAG the development of the test was made known.

Senator O'NEILL: Is anything going to be different now that TEMAG have delivered their report? Do you think that that will change the work you are doing or the implementation of that?

Ms Evans : The requirements around the implementation of the test were not clear when we were asked to develop the test. Our responsibility was simply to develop the test. TEMAG has made quite clear now what the expectation is associated with the test. The Commonwealth department will work with states and territories, regulators and providers through the mechanisms of that implementation.

CHAIR: We will now break for afternoon tea.

Pr oceedings suspended from 15:33 to 15:49

CHAIR: Thank you everyone. Senator O'Neill.

Senator O'NEILL: We established with the proposed testing of students, who are approaching the point of graduation, that the development of a test to ascertain literacy and numeracy capacity was set in train by the former government, indeed, the former Minister Garrett, and that work has been underway for some period of time by AITSL in doing that. We also determined that you had provided input to TEMAG, and I was up to the point where I was going to ask you: how does the report reflect your input? How, in your view, does their report reflect your input?

Ms Evans : Generally or in relation to the test?

Senator O'NEILL: Probably in relation to the test. We will stick to that.

Ms Evans : We did not provide specific recommendations in relation to the test, but we made them aware that we were involved in the testing and had done some work, but we did not provide specific advice in relation to a test.

Senator O'NEILL: Do you have samples of the test that you could make available to the committee?

Mr Misson : The answer to that is: not yet, but we will shortly. It is just a case of going through the technical process. We should have those available, to be safe, by the end of March.

Senator Kim Carr interjecting

Mr Misson : The sample items that we make public will be those that we have chosen not to use in the live testing, so that people cannot get an unfair advantage by looking at the sample items.

Senator KIM CARR: You did say that you would have this finished by the end of February.

Mr Misson : Yes. At that point we will have finalised items.

Senator KIM CARR: Presumably it is after.

Senator O'NEILL: When are we going to get it. Was it 6 March?

Senator KIM CARR: Will you be able to provide us with it?

Senator O'NEILL: By 17 April.

Senator KIM CARR: You will have the answers by then, not just the test.

Mr Misson : We might leave those for senators to figure out.

Ms Evans : We are very happy to provide that as soon as they are available, and that would be within the month.

Senator O'NEILL: We would be interested in getting our hands on it as quickly as possible. I know that that is the end date, but prior to that would probably be helpful. I notice that the achievement level of the test was to be set at the top 30 per cent of the overall population. Is that still the case or is it being revisited? What is the status of that?

Ms Evans : That is still the case.

Senator O'NEILL: For the record, could you explain AITSL's involvement in the production of the TEMAG report? How significant was your contribution to that?

Ms Evans : Like all other stakeholders we were given an opportunity to meet with the TEMAG committee, face to face, and provide them with a written submission. We were not privy to the recommendations of the report before they were made, but we were kept abreast of the general thrust of that committee during the time of its deliberation.

Senator O'NEILL: You must be relieved that there was not a policy change?

Ms Evans : We are very pleased to see the recommendations of the report. We believe the report emphasises impact—impact of graduates, impact of evidence—in a way that builds on AITSL's work and introduces some new things, but absolutely builds on the work that AITSL had been doing.

Senator O'NEILL: So, you have not do a new mandate or anything as a result of TEMAG? Basically you are in conversation and advancing in the way you always were?

Ms Paul : Actually AITSL has quite a bit of a new mandate beyond just what we are talking about now. For the record I would not want it to be clear that the government's response actually asks AITSL to do a whole range of things not just in this regard. You may want AITSL to tell you about that, or we can, but we just need to be clear it is not just in this one area.

Senator O'NEILL: On the strength that, I might ask about the funding of the testing process moving forward. What is your funding allocation?

Ms Evans : We have core funding, and that has been made clear to us. What has also been made clear to us is that we will receive funding to assist with the implementation of the TEMAG recommendations. The quantum of that funding has not yet been determined, and will be determined, I understand, through the Commonwealth government's budget processes.

Senator O'NEILL: So, it will not be known until after May?

Ms Evans : I understand that it will be done through the budget processes. The timing of that would be better addressed to the department.

Mr Cook : Just to be clear, ACER already has money set aside—I think it is about $2 million or $2.5 million—for AITSL for the TEMAG response. The government actually provided that last year.

Senator O'NEILL: Can I just pull back from there and ask: how much was allocated to the teacher testing which was already underway?

Mr Cook : That would have been part of AITSL's existing budget, and Ms Evans can answer that.

Ms Evans : We can tell you that.

Senator KIM CARR: In the last budget was your funding reduced by close on $20 million?

Mr Cook : No. That money was never received by AITSL. That was money that was allocated into future budgets by the previous government, but same as ACARA, neither institution actually received that money into their budgets.

Ms Paul : It was activities, I seem to recall, which were no longer going to be undertaken and had not yet been paid to AITSL, as Mr Cook said. While the AITSL folk are looking up money and so on, if you look at the government's response, there have been many, many requests for AITSL to take on a number of things. It is really focused on AITSL as the pre-eminent teaching and school leadership standard setting body.

Senator KIM CARR: I will ask the officers. I have a note here that tells me that there was a budget item of total savings of $19.9 million: -2.7 in 2014-14; -5.6 in 2014-15; -6 in 2015-16; -3.5 in 2016-17; and -2.1 in 2017-18. Is that correct?

Ms Paul : They have been in the forward estimates but not paid to AITSL.

Senator KIM CARR: So, for the 2013-14 budget, was your funding reduced by $2.7 million?

Mr Cook : Senator, it would not have been because that money would never have been received by AITSL. They could not reduce a budget that they never actually received money for. They were not actually asked for work to do in relation to that money either.

Ms Paul : It was reduced against forward estimates, but it was not money that had been received by AITSL.

Senator KIM CARR: What to the officers say to that? Was the agency's funding reduced?

Ms Evans : We did not receive funding that was then taken away. The funding was not reduced. The actual money received by AITSL was not reduced.

Mr Cook : Also AITSL was not asked to do any work as well.

Ms Paul : Yes. They were not asked to do the work.

Mr Cook : They now have been.

Ms Paul : Sure. Mr Cook was starting to say that AITSL has already received some money to respond to the TEMAG report, in particular, through the government asking, for example, AITSL to have a closer relationship with TEQSA, et cetera.

Senator KIM CARR: Minister Pyne announced a sum of money for this project.

Ms Paul : For which project?

Senator KIM CARR: This testing project. When he announced the response to TEMAG, the teaching report, was there a small amount of money referred to in that statement?

Mr Cook : The money for the work that AITSL was doing around the development of that test was already in AITSL's budget, so there was no announcement because that money was already in their budget. In terms of future money for the future progress of the tests, as Miss Evans said, that is at a budget process and a decision for the government.

Senator KIM CARR: So the minister has not announced any additional money at this stage?

Mr Cook : Again, the additional money was already in the budget. It was set aside.

Senator KIM CARR: I am trying to establish whether or not any announcement has been made.

Ms Paul : There has not been an announcement, but there was money set aside.

Senator O'NEILL: Could I ask you to give me the amounts of money that were spent in the preparation of the test since commencement?

Ms Evans : That money that was allocated to the literacy and numeracy test was $655,000. That was allocated in the 2013-14 financial year and we have spent—

Mr Misson : That makes a final payment due to ACER, but that money is either spent or committed in the current contract we have with ACER, so the expenditure—

Senator O'NEILL: And your contract for the development of the test and implementation of it—you were mentioning ACER; what is your relationship with ACER?

Ms Evans : We have contracted ACER to develop the test and to provide advice and support around developing the benchmark.

Senator O'NEILL: The implementation of the test is to go ahead now. What cost do you believe—have you provided any projections of the cost to the government?

Ms Evans : No. Not clear advice to government around this. That now is a matter for government who are taking on the responsibility for the implementation of the test—or the department, as opposed to government.

Senator O'NEILL: Does the department have any projection of figures around the enactment of this announcement?

Mr Cook : [inaudible] advice we give to government as part of the budget process.

Senator O'NEILL: Okay. And you are 100 per cent clear that there was no announcement of additional funding when the teacher training announcement was made by the minister?

Mr Cook : I cannot recall, unless you have something there. I honestly cannot recall.

Senator KIM CARR: You are the ones with the information.

Mr Cook : I am just saying I cannot recall.

Senator O'NEILL: If you could find out if there was, and provide us with that information, that would be pretty important.

Ms Paul : Yes, sure.

Senator KIM CARR: The test is selecting undergraduates who meet a criteria of having literacy and numeracy skills in the top 70 per cent of the population, is that correct?

Ms Evans : No, the top 30 per cent of the population.

Senator KIM CARR: The top 30 per cent is what I meant to say. That does not particularly strike me as an onerous task. Has there been any consideration, given that the New South Wales teaching service will not accept graduates, presumably, through admissions centres, without an ATAR of 70 per cent—that is, in the top 30 per cent of students, as distinct from population. Isn't the proposition that you are in the top 30 per cent of the population significantly below criteria of the top 30 per cent of university students?

Mr Cook : My understanding of that was that that was the standard set by the previous government.

Senator KIM CARR: It might well be. But I am just asking: has there been any consideration of the adequacy of that?

Mr Cook : Again, that was based on my understanding of international research. If you look at Singapore and Finland, it is the same sort of standard that was set at those countries as well.

Senator KIM CARR: That is the basis for it, is it?

Mr Cook : That is my understanding; although, Ms Evans, I am sure, has further information.

Ms Evans : We have done some quite comprehensive testing of whether it is a rigorous enough assessment. Remember, this is a requirement for all teachers so that they have enough understanding and enough capacity in personal literacy and numeracy to carry out the rigours of teaching and get through their university course. This is not a standard we would be setting or expecting of somebody who was teaching maths or teaching English. This is a minimum.

Senator KIM CARR: Undergraduates.

Ms Evans : Yes. There have been a range of processes—and I will ask Mr Misson to describe them because he can describe them more exactly than I can—and we have been engaged in two or three different processes to test the adequacy of this as a benchmark.

Mr Misson : So the best way to get a handle on the top 30 per cent of the population is through population surveys. There is a major international survey called PIAAC, which is run in Australia among other places, and that allows you to benchmark the top 30 per cent of the population to what is called the Australian core skills framework, which is a measurement framework for literacy and numeracy. Then we got a group of experts—people from schools, principals primarily, who work with new graduate teachers, and teacher educators, who are working with them before they graduate—and we ran a process. It is a more elaborate process than this, but in this process we took test items—questions, basically—that are calibrated to that scale, and we asked those experts whether they thought a graduate should or should not be able to answer this question. They go through a moderated process and come to a consensus on where the level should be. The result was that that level was equivalent to the top 30 per cent of the population, so we do think that we have a calibration of that top 30 per cent to the literacy and numeracy demands of teaching. And that is pretty soundly based.

Senator KIM CARR: Mr Cook, is that how it is done internationally?

Mr Cook : Singapore also sets itself at 30 per cent. I am not sure of the methodology as to how they reach that 30 per cent. I am sorry.

Senator KIM CARR: Scandinavia?

Mr Cook : Scandinavia—I think it was between 20 and 30 per cent as well. Again, I am not sure of their methodology, as to why they came up with that percentage but it is consistent—

Ms Paul : Finland; not all of Scandinavia necessarily.

Mr Cook : Yes, it is Finland we are talking about specifically. But we did look at the benchmarking, I think, as part of the process of looking at what some of the high-performing countries were doing around initial teacher education and selection of teachers, and their courses as well.

Senator KIM CARR: And there is no intention to revisit those criteria?

Mr Cook : That is in the standards at the moment. If that was to be revisited, then all education ministers would have to have a view to review that standard.

Senator KIM CARR: But it is not under consideration?

Mr Cook : Not at this point, no. I do not believe so.

Senator KIM CARR: How many graduates do we expect in 2016? How many people will actually have to sit this test?

Mr Misson : I cannot tell you exactly, but in 2012 there were 16,650 completions in initial teacher education, so I think we can safely assume it will be in that order.

Senator KIM CARR: Growth rate has grown a little higher since then, hasn't it? It might be significantly higher than 16,000—is that the number you said?

Mr Misson : 16,650. To predict the number in 2016 is probably a bit difficult but it would be that order of magnitude.

Mr Cook : It was about 18,000 in 2013. That is the latest dataset we have.

Senator KIM CARR: That is what I would have thought.

Senator O'NEILL: Could I move on to a couple of questions around the accreditation of teacher courses. The accreditation of teacher courses is something that has been going on for quite some time.

Ms Evans : Since 2013 the national accreditation has been adopted by each state and territory. But you are correct; prior to that, particularly in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, there have been accreditation processes in place.

Senator O'NEILL: There seems to have been some considerable effort to try and create the sense that this is a brand new concept, that accrediting teacher education has somehow just arrived on the horizon. I guess I refer particularly to the announcement by the minister: 'We have announced that we will reaccredit all teaching institutions in Australia'. Could you take us through the process that has been in place and any changes that you can see as a result of this announcement?

Ms Evans : The TEMAG report has very clearly said that the accreditation processes in place are of themselves okay but they are not implemented nearly rigorously enough. And there is a real will I think amongst all stakeholders to see those strengthened. The current accreditation process consists of a panel that largely does a desktop analysis of course inputs, with some consideration of outputs. What we would see happening quickly and in terms of the strengthened process is a much greater focus: on output; on the quality of the graduate, the impact that the graduate is having on student learning; and the nature of each of the courses themselves. In order for universities to get full accreditation they would have to demonstrate that the course that they were conducting actually produced classroom-ready graduates. What we have in place currently is some of the policy guidelines and the hooks around that, but I think it is fair to say that that needs strengthening and clarifying, and it needs a focus on data and on outputs and impact.

Senator O'NEILL: The national accreditation standards commenced in 2013, didn't they?

Ms Evans : Full implementation of the standards commenced in 2013.

Senator O'NEILL: And prior to that?

Ms Evans : The standards themselves I think were agreed in late 2011. Prior to that, there had been no national agreement about the process. So what was occurring in each state and territory was different— including, in some states and territories, no real accreditation process at all.

Senator O'NEILL: The command-and-control model from Canberra is now in ascendency with regard to teacher accreditation.

Ms Paul : It is to try to lift the quality of teaching. This has been something which all governments have said is a high priority—

Senator O'NEILL: Clearly, it took until 2011 to actually get the agreement; that is a very significant thing. This is a project that had been underway for some period of time. It commenced under which minister? Who was the minister at the time, in 2011?

Ms Paul : What we were just talking about then is something new which the—

Senator O'NEILL: Yes, but I am just trying to get the history of where we have been. The work in this area started in 2011—getting agreement in the first place?

Ms Evans : So in order to get nationally agreed accreditation, the work had been going on for some time, even prior to the creation of AITSL. In 2011 when that was signed off—from my recollection, it was Julia Gillard who was the minister at that stage. The national accreditation process through the education council was then agreed and fully implemented across states and territories in 2013.

Senator O'NEILL: And when in 2013 did that occur?

Ms Evans : At the beginning of 2013.

Senator O'NEILL: February?

Ms Evans : It is progressive.

Mr Misson : Just to be clear, Senator, in some states and territories some accreditation took place under the national system in 2012. Every accreditation that has taken place, since 1 January 2013 effectively, across the country has been under the national system, so that is how we are defining full implementation.

Senator O'NEILL: What is the number of programs that have been accredited in that period in accordance with the accreditation standards?

Mr Misson : 139.

Senator KIM CARR: Total?

Mr Misson : Approximately 400 that are accredited.

Senator KIM CARR: There are 400 courses, are there? Teaching courses?

Mr Misson : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: And 139 have been reaccredited?

Mr Misson : Nationally accredited.

Mr Cook : I do not believe any have failed, is that correct?

Ms Evans : Mr Cook has raised a question about whether any have failed. The answer to that question is no. But these courses probably fall into four categories. There are courses that go through the accreditation process and get through—they are well done; it is easy. There is a group of courses that require some iteration. There is another group of courses that take a long time to be accredited. And there is a final group that are withdrawn during the accreditation process. Under TEMAG, it is very clear that the standards for going through the accreditation process—the amount of time, the amount of iteration that takes place during that process—needs to be sharpened and tightened so that the standards are clearer and the expectation that they can deliver is much more explicit. That needs to be done so that this backwards and forwards and toing and froing is much reduced and the rigour is significantly greater.

Senator O'NEILL: So it is pretty clear that there was a continual improvement process underway, and that has just been more formalised in recent times but—

Ms Paul : No, I do not think that is what Ms Evans was saying. I think it is fair to say that TEMAG found that some of those approaches were not rigorous enough—I think that is what you were just saying—

Senator O'NEILL: Yes, and some of them were withdrawn during the process.

Ms Paul : and that universities had implemented programs in quite a variety of ways, some terrific and some really, really not. Just to be clear, TEMAG is recommending that, for example, universities be required to actually deliver evidence of and substantiate the effectiveness of their teaching practices, which is something they have not been required to do—

Senator O'NEILL: I understand, Ms Paul. It is an improvement on the process, but it is not the commencement of a new process.

Ms Paul : Well, this is—

Senator O'NEILL: This is a process that is building.

Ms Paul : and there are several pieces from TEMAG where, in the government's response, the government is saying it will instruct AITSL to establish and publish the central requirements for practical experience; it will require AITSL to forge a closer relationship with TEQSA; it will ask AITSL to set clear expectations that assessment be continuous, based on the graduate level of the standards that we have been talking about; it will instruct AITSL to use the course accreditation arrangements to require universities to make sure that every new primary teacher graduates with a subject specialisation, which we have not talked about yet; and so on. Also, it has asked AITSL, through Professor Hattie, the chair, to establish a national focus on research into teacher education. They are just some of the new activities that AITSL will undertake, just to help you there.

Senator O'NEILL: Thank you.

Senator KIM CARR: How many courses, of the 139, were withdrawn before they received re-accreditation?

Ms Evans : We do not know the answer. It is not that I do not have it here; we do not know the answer to that question. In preparation for the TEMAG work, we wanted to get a bit of a sense of this. The expectation under the current process is that panels work with the universities' providers to make sure that they are accredited. One of the significant changes, I think, under the new strengthened process, is that we will be much clearer about expectations, and therefore the universities will have to demonstrate capacity and impact much more explicitly. So there will not be an opportunity to iterate over and over again, till we get there.

Senator KIM CARR: My reading of the report suggested to me there was some dissatisfaction with the accreditation process.

Ms Evans : I think that is correct. I think the dissatisfaction with the accreditation process was focused primarily on the implementation. But, also, the TEMAG report has made it clear that there needs to be greater specificity and rigour in some of the standards themselves.

Senator KIM CARR: So how confident can we be in the 139 courses that have received national accreditation?

Ms Evans : I think it would be fair to say that they will fall over the predictable curve. Some will be fabulous and some will be pretty marginal. I think we can be confident, if they were accredited, that they get over the line. What AITSL would certainly want is that courses do more than just get over the line, that they are much more rigorous and much more able to demonstrate their impact.

Senator KIM CARR: So is it your intention to re-accredit all courses—that is, the full 400?

Ms Evans : There has always been an expectation in place that, over time, courses would be re-accredited. One of the things that we will need to work through with our stakeholders is the length of time that re-accreditation will take. It is pretty clear in the TEMAG report that the expectation is that the accreditation of courses be re-examined and done relatively quickly.

Senator KIM CARR: You have just told us that some the courses that have been accredited are 'marginal'. Is that correct?

Ms Evans : Yes. That is correct.

Senator KIM CARR: How can you tolerate a situation where you have courses of that description, marginal, that are not reassessed?

Ms Evans : Senator, you have gone right to the heart of the problem. We do not want to tolerate courses that are marginal. We want to have a much greater sense that the expectations of the course are much clearer, so we are clearer about what is marginal and what is not—and then, if something is not marginal, that there is a bit of a light-touch approach to it or, if something is marginal, that there is much greater rigour about that course being able to demonstrate its impact.

Senator KIM CARR: How long will it take to reaccredit the 400 courses that operate?

Ms Evans : I do not know the answer to that until we work through with our stakeholders how that reaccreditation process will occur and the resources that we will need to do that in terms of training.

Senator O'NEILL: The original time line for the accreditation was through to 2023, wasn't it?

Ms Evans : It was. I can give you a very clear answer to that. It is expected that all courses are reaccredited within a five-year period.

Senator KIM CARR: Five years from now?

Ms Evans : Five years from when they were originally accredited.

Senator KIM CARR: When were these 139 accredited?

Mr Misson : Between 2012 and the end of last year; there would not be any this year.

Senator KIM CARR: So it would be 2018, would it?

Ms Evans : If we are adhering to the five-year time line it would be 2018. I think the expectation through the TEMAG report is that we actually accelerate that reaccreditation process.

Senator KIM CARR: There was nothing in the minister's statement that gave us specific reference to when this was going to be done.

Ms Paul : You get a sense of it in the government response, actually. As Ms Evans was saying, there is a sense of AITSL requiring much more rigour, I suppose, on proving effectiveness by universities and faculties.

Senator KIM CARR: Madam Secretary, I appreciate the sense of it, but I think we would probably need a little more precision than that.

Mr Cook : I understand that the minister said in his speech that he would expect the large majority of all the recommendations in relation to the TEMAG report to be completed within the next two years.

Senator KIM CARR: Two years?

Mr Cook : That is right. Whether that is accreditation or whether it is all the processes that need to be put into place; but a lot of the work that will lead to the reaccreditation process is to be completed within two years.

Senator O'NEILL: I have just received a little bit of information about an announcement and I am just looking for the amount. I have been led to believe there is a $3 million announcement of funding.

Mr Cook : That would be, I would imagine, the existing funding in the AITSL budget. If the minister announced that, that would have been money that was identified and put aside in the existing AITSL budget.

Senator KIM CARR: So it is not new money?

Mr Cook : It is not new as in a future budget; it is new as in it was anticipated, because we knew obviously from last year that TEMAG would be happening. So it was put aside in the AITSL budget for this purpose.

Ms Paul : It has only now been formally attached to the TEMAG response. It was not possible, naturally, to do that until the government could see what was in the report.

Senator O'NEILL: I might be on the wrong thing, but it says, 'Finding $230 million of new money, extra money, for schooling'. There is some confusion here about new money and no money.

Ms Paul : $230 million?

Senator O'NEILL: I cannot actually locate this number in here. If I can come back to that, that would be good. I will probably have to ask a question on this, so I might have to come back a bit later on.

Ms Paul : We have got program 2 to come. If you find it, we can try to take it then.

Senator O'NEILL: Okay. Finally, teacher entry standards-I know that my colleague Senator Carr has made some comments about that. Does AITSL have research about the impact of entrance scores for teacher institutions? Are you part of that conversation, as an independent body?

Ms Evans : I am sorry; can you repeat—

Senator O'NEILL: Do you have a view about ATAR entry scores, and how has your research—I am assuming you have done research on that—fed into the conversation?

Ms Evans : It is very clear that people who are coming into teacher training need both an academic capacity—we are certainly not moving away from that—and other skills, personal attributes, to be an effective teacher and to complete the teacher training program effectively. There are a range of ways to measure that. Our view is that ATAR is one way of measuring academic capacity. But fewer than 20 per cent of people who come into initial teacher education programs come in on the basis of an ATAR. It is just not a robust enough and/or broadly based enough measure.

Senator KIM CARR: You said 20 per cent. What is the evidence for 20 per cent coming in through ATAR?

Ms Paul : It is just a straight number. That is the data collected from universities, I think, isn't it?

Senator KIM CARR: What is the source of that data?

Ms Paul : The universities themselves.

Ms Evans : The universities themselves provide that data through a census process.

Senator KIM CARR: Let's look at that. How many of those who come in direct to universities have an ATAR score? It is not that they do not have an ATAR score. It is that only 20 per cent come in through university admission centres. Is that the case?

Ms Evans : Let's talk about—

Senator Ryan: Sorry, can I seek some clarification here. To put an example to you, if someone was going in as a postgraduate and they had done a three-year bachelor's degree they presumably would have an ATAR score. Are you asking for everyone who goes into a teaching degree, who is young enough, to have an ATAR score?

Senator KIM CARR: There are two issues. At what age do they enter? Melbourne University, for instance, has a postgraduate teaching qualification, an M Ed. Other institutions have direct entry for a teaching qualification—Catholic University, for instance. So they take 18 year olds into the teaching program, whereas Melbourne University tends to take people at 20 or 21.

Senator Ryan: Or older.

Senator KIM CARR: It is a different age group. But they all have ATARs.

Senator Ryan: Do you also include the 28 year old who might have done a Bachelor of Science and is going into a Masters of Education qualification.

Senator KIM CARR: They may have an ATAR still.

Senator Ryan: So you are asking about any ATAR score they might have had since the year 2000?

Senator KIM CARR: This whole debate is quite skewed. It is not accurately an accurate statement to say that only 20 per cent of people enter the teaching program with an ATAR.

Ms Paul : This is what we understand the evidence to be, and it is the same evidence between AITSL and us. Twenty per cent is the percentage of people entering teaching training who enter on the basis of their ATAR. Eighty per cent enter on some other basis. They might be coming from work. They might be mature age. All of the things you would know. But that is the percentage who enter on the basis of an ATAR. That is what Ms Evans was suggesting.

Senator KIM CARR: I am saying to you that it is quite a misleading statistics, because it does not tell you whether or not people have an ATAR other than—it implies that you do not have an ATAR, which is not the case.

Ms Paul : But the debate is about what the basis should be to select—

Senator KIM CARR: The method of entry. If it is through school leavers—year 12 students is one thing. Postgraduate students entering into a Masters of Teaching, which is becoming increasingly common, is an entirely different thing.

Ms Paul : I think this percentage is for initial teacher training. It is actually quite a surprisingly low proportion—

Senator KIM CARR: They are two separate issues—

Senator O'NEILL: A masters is still a [inaudible].

Senator KIM CARR: That is exactly right. There is a requirement now—

Ms Paul : No, it is not. It is a postgraduate degree.

Senator O'NEILL: Yes—

Senator KIM CARR: It is an initial teacher training to get into a Masters of Teaching at Melbourne or at Western Australia—and I think they still do it at Western Australia. To actually stand in front of a class and get a teacher placement, you require a degree for entry through Melbourne University.

Ms Paul : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: At other institutions you are commencing your degree. You are measuring different things entirely.

Ms Paul : I understand what you are saying. What we are trying to say is that, for the statistic we understand to be the proportion of students from whatever backgrounds going into teacher training, only 20 per cent of them are selected on the basis of the ATAR.

Senator KIM CARR: That is directly from school?

Ms Paul: No. Well, probably, but I am talking about the whole set of—

Senator Ryan: It could be a year after year 12, if they took a gap year.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, but it is year 12 exists in reality.

Ms Paul: Presumably.

Senator KIM CARR: And the higher education statistics will reflect that. In terms of those entering with an ATAR do you have any fix on the special consideration measures?

Mr Cook: I do not believe we have.

Ms Evans: No.

Mr Cook: Which is why one of the recommendation of the TEMAG report was for that information to be made public. So if you look at recommendation 11—

Senator KIM CARR: I understand that. But does your agency have any indication of what—I am referring to it as special consideration—additional scores are given for—Christ knows what it is called.

Mr Cook: Bonus schemes or forced offers?

Senator KIM CARR: Left-handedness, blue eyes—that sort of stuff.

Mr Misson: In that case the answer is no.

Senator KIM CARR: What is the maximum percentage of special consideration that is given to those ATAR scores? Do you know that?

Mr Misson: We do not know that. Someone somewhere in the department may, but we certainly have never collected that—

Senator KIM CARR: Do you know that, Mr Cook?

Mr Cook: No.

Ms Paul: No, that is why TEMAG has recommended—

Mr Cook: TEMAG could not identify that, either, which is why they said to be much more transparent and accountable to the public and governments around this it should actually be published by universities.

Ms Paul: The recommendation says:

Recommendation 11: Higher education providers publish all information necessary to ensure transparent and justifiable selection processes for entry for initial teacher education programs, including details of Australian Tertiary Admission Rank bonus schemes, forced offers and number of offers below any published cut-off.

Senator KIM CARR: 'Bonus schemes', that is the term I am looking for. Do you have any statistics on raw ATAR scores for entry to teacher education courses? Raw ATAR scores.

Ms Paul: I do not think so. That is why TEMAG thought that was a big gap.

Senator KIM CARR: Does anyone in the country have them that you are aware of.

Ms Evans: Not that I am aware of.

Senator KIM CARR: The institutions would.

Ms Evans: Individual institutions would.

Senator KIM CARR: But, Mr Cook, in the higher education statistics there is no-one who collects that?

Mr Cook: I am not aware of it. Outcome 3 might be able to answer that better than I can. I understand part of the concern was that TEMAG was told by a number of people they consulted with that they understood there were practices in universities about some of these bonus schemes.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, quite considerable practices.

Mr Cook: It no longer gives them the data they needed, so that is why I believe they went to recommendation 11.

Senator KIM CARR: There is no-one within government I can talk to about what those bonus schemes are?

Mr Cook: If anyone could it would be outcome 3.

Ms Paul: Let's see if anyone here for higher education later on knows.

Senator KIM CARR: Would TEQSA know?

Ms Paul: I am not sure. It is worth asking. Otherwise we will take it on notice. TEMAG also obviously found this a frustration. We will see if they found anything, too.

Senator O'NEILL: I have a couple of question about principal standards that I might put on notice, and, obviously, the interface between professional experience in schools, school placement and the theoretical practical interplay, which obviously is of great concern in the accreditation process and in the funding process. I have a number of more detailed questions around that and I will foreshadow that I would like to speak about that next time.

CHAIR: Thank you for your evidence.