Calling for 'urgent national action to improve the quality of initial teacher education': the reification of evidence and accountability in reform agendas

Year: 2017

Author: Rowe, Emma, Skourdoumbis, Andrew

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In late 2014, the Australian Government and an associated Ministerial Group called for 'urgent national action to improve the quality of initial teacher education' (TEMAG, 2014). Following this call for action, the Australian Government launched a series of reforms into initial teacher education, targeting 'teacher quality' and 'classroom readiness'. The reforms are based on the logic of deficiency within initial teacher education, and for pre-service teachers. In this paper we set out to explore these reforms, considering the policy trajectories, technologies and technicist network in which they are operationalized. We propose the concept of reification and objectification, drawing on Ball's (2003) notion of performativity, to examine the institutionalization of auditing, standardized assessments, and accreditation. These reforms aim to intervene in both the content and delivery of initial teacher education. They have resulted in the mandated National Literacy and Numeracy Test that pre-service teachers must pass in order to graduate. We argue that reforms such as these recondition our conceptions of professionalism and teacher quality. There is a contraction in scope for progressive or experiential teacher education, and moreover, the ongoing de-professionalism of teachers and teacher educators, whom are subjected to constant surveillance.