'Prepare yourself': testing the literacy skills of graduating teachers

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The 2016 introduction of national literacy and numeracy exit testing for all Australian teacher graduates was a significant policy decision that adds further pressure on the tightly regulated area of Initial Teacher Education. There are implications to examine from this specific mandate about the nature of the testing, the capabilities of future teachers, and contemporary conceptions of literacy. Initial Teacher Educators of literacy also need to consider how they might address the preparation of their preservice students to satisfy the test requirements while extending them beyond meeting one achievement measure to fulfil their career ambitions.

This paper explores the impact of the policy regulation on preservice teachers, specifically, in relation to their personal literacy skills and test preparedness. Against this background of legislative requirements, the project reported here adopted one approach to address students' literacy needs by developing customised online literacy support. Research conducted with the first cohort of participants to evaluate this intervention had two purposes. First, to obtain students' evaluation of the online resource and their assessment of its usefulness as a tool for their learning. Secondly, to gather students' views about their confidence in their personal literacy skills, and their opinions about the introduction of the LANTITE literacy test (ACER, 2019).

The self-reported data prompt further discussion about the preparation of Initial Teacher Education students and the nature of literacy development for beginning teachers. There are ongoing challenges for teacher educators as we prepare our future teachers for professional accreditation that requires the demonstration of a specific set of skills. Literacy competency and linguistic achievement cannot be assumed. It is essential to build rich contemporary conceptualisations of literacy, to develop tertiary students' personal and professional confidence across a range of multiliteracy practices and multimodalities, and to extend these well beyond any single test measure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177 -188
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Journal of Language and Literacy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • initial teacher education
  • literacy testing
  • learning resources


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