Author: Hilton, Alison
Type of paper: Individual Paper
Australian schools have become increasingly diverse, and support students from a wide range of racial, cultural, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, as well as students with disability. Whilst it is recognised that the needs of diverse students are better served by teaching staff who represent diverse communities, efforts to improve broader representation can be hampered by a ‘one size fits all’ approach to teacher education, attraction, recruitment and retention. In 2016 the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) was implemented and became a requirement for pre-service teacher qualifications. Students are now required to meet the standard of being in the top 30% of the adult population for literacy and numeracy. Teacher education providers acknowledge the importance of high standards of literacy and numeracy. To date, there has been limited published research or public discussion relating to the impact LANTITE is having on pre-service teachers, which is greater for students who are from diverse backgrounds. Therefore, the aim of this research is to explore the LANTITE experiences of students from diverse backgrounds.This mixed-methods study was part of a larger study conducted in two phases and involved two distinct participant groups; (1), pre-service teachers from Australian universities, and (2), teacher educators who teach or support pre-service teachers. Both groups engaged in phase one of the research, an online questionnaire, and were invited to opt-in to phase two, a semi-structured interview. Tensions regarding students from diverse backgrounds emerged from the data. These included additional financial pressures and challenges they faced to pass the test as well as test adjustments which differed to university adjustment offerings. To explore these issues in-depth, I draw on the voices and stories of 10 students and 12 stakeholders to identify the needs of diverse students.Key findings from this study reveal the unintended consequences of standardised testing, specifically the challenges or adverse events students experienced whilst preparing for and sitting the tests, which in extreme cases resulted in exclusion from teaching. Findings also highlighted several aspects of the process which present additional hurdles for diverse students. These include concerns related to the testing environment, the test type and structure, and adjustments to testing conditions for students with diverse needs that take into account their particular characteristics.Further research regarding the impact LANTITE is having on diversity is warranted as well as possible adjustments to LANTITE to promote pre-service teacher diversity.