Use of Regional Entry Test at University of Western Sydney, Macarthur, for Selection of Teacher Education Students

Year: 1990

Author: Williams, Don

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In 1985 the then Macarthur Institute of Higher Education introduced an alternative entry scheme for undergraduate students as part of an affirmative action program to help more people in the South West of Sydney gain access to higher education. Five years later there are still compelling reasons to justify an affirmative action program. The South West of Sydney has approximately one-third of the number of higher education places per 1,000 of population than the more richly endowed areas of Sydney. When the University of Western Sydney, Macarthur, is compared to The University of Sydney, for example, the floor space available per student is about one-third that of its older counterpart. Over the past few years high school retention rates to Year 12 in South West Sydney have improved dramatically but they are currently still lower than the State average which in turn is lower than the national average. A test designed to measure school leavers' ability to process printed information involving moderately complex real world tasks was employed in 1985 to provide an alternative method of entry for south west Sydney students in their Higher School Certificate year. The designers claim that this Regional Entry Test (RET) is different from a scholastic aptitude test and has similarities to the literacy skills test for young adults used in the United States National Assessment of Educational Progress (Dunstan and Taylor, 1990). After a modest beginning the Regional Entry Test has become well accepted in the region, with about 2,700 high school students taking the test in September 1990. For some courses, an adaptation of the test is also administered to Category B (mature age) applicants and the results constitute one of the selection criteria.