Why the LANTITE is bullsh!t

Owen Harvey gets on his soapbox about the LANTITE for teaching students.

Imagine that great day when you finally complete your university degree. You’ve worked three+ years for this. It’s undoubtedly been tough, but you’re ready and willing to join the workforce and start earning money while contributing to society.

But wait, what’s that? The federal government has decided that you should complete a new test, one to make sure you are “well trained, skilled and knowledgeable”. Well that’s annoying. I thought being able to complete my undergraduate, perhaps even my postgraduate, would’ve confirmed I was well-skilled, but I guess they want to make sure I’m ready. I’ll begrudgingly sit this literacy and numeracy test if I have to. I sure wish I had gotten an official notification about this though, rather than relying on occasionally inaccurate information from university tutors, news websites and Facebook friends.

You go to register online, but you find that there are only six sessions in Newcastle in late May, and they may be booked up already. Remember, you need to complete this test before you can work. (Don’t worry, more tests are coming in August, October and November 2016!) And let’s not discount the possibility that these sessions may actually be happening while you are working on an unpaid practicum or internship. Luckily it only takes four hours to complete the tests. *N.B. this doesn’t account for time spent organising around other commitments like work or family, studying for the test, travelling to and from the venue, registration or waiting for results.

But anyway, let’s assume you’ve managed to register for a test. Now you’re asked to pay the test fee of $185. Why on Earth are you expected to pay so much just to prove you can read and count? You never expected this fee when you started your degree, and why does a computer-based test require such an exorbitant fee? You’re essentially paying $1.42 for each of the 130 questions you’re expected to answer in the test. I sure hope you pass because if not, it’s another $92.50 per test and months of stressful waiting until you can attempt again. Gee, who would’ve thought it’d cost so much in order to start earning a pay check?

This is the situation facing several thousand students expecting to graduate from UoN and other universities around Australia with teaching degrees by the end of 2016. The Language and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students (LANTITE) is a compulsory test that teaching students need to sit and pass prior to graduation.

Around 10% of students failed this test during the pilot study. Some of those “failures” may be the most passionate, inspiring teachers, but are unable to teach immediately due to a few missed marks. For example, think of those potential English teachers who vowed never to touch a calculator again unless absolutely necessary. They are now expected to use skills they potentially haven’t practiced in years in order to please politicians.

I understand that the government wants better teachers, even if it’s just a way to please voters. But this is a superficial, ingenuous attempt that inconveniences potential teachers with an expensive, unnecessary test. LANTITE should either be abolished or subsidised and incorporated into university programs rather than tacked on as a potentially stressing afterthought that wastes time and money. Education students should have already proved themselves by getting into and completing the program. It’s insulting to students and education providers.



Image: Karl Baron, Flickr, no changes made.