Victorian schools are scrambling to prepare senior students for a new test that screens those applying for teaching degrees for resilience, ethics and empathy.Careers counsellors said they only recently discovered that VCE students who want to study teaching next year must pass the test.
Universities will use the nonacademic test, along with students' ATARs, to determine who is suited for a teaching degree.Eight of Victoria's 11 institutions that offer initial teacher education courses have signed up for the Canadian-owned CASPer test, while others including the University of Melbourne are already running their own tests.
The peak body for school career counsellors said the $80 fee to sit the CASPer test would deter poorer students."For disadvantaged students, the cost is a real imposition," said Frank Thompson, the president of Career Education Association of Victoria.
"Career advisers are not opposed to the idea of the test but the timing of this announcement has left us with very little time to make sure students are informed and prepared."Students will not receive their test results, making it difficult to make informed decisions during the change-of-preference period in December, he said.
It's part of a national push for tougher entry standards for teaching courses, with all Australian universities required to select students based on academic and nonacademic qualities.In Victoria, students will have to achieve a minimum ATAR of 65 in 2018 if they want to enrol in an undergraduate teaching course.
This will be hiked to 70 the following year.Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling said psychological testing of VCE students before their exams was "problematic" given the stress and anxiety they were already experiencing.
"I urge the minister to stop and think about the damage this is going to cause young people who are at a very vulnerable period of their life right now and put an end to this madness. " The 90-minute CASPer test requires students to watch and respond to video scenarios. In one e scenario, students must explain how they would diffuse conflict in a study group where one student is not contributing.In another, a mother grows increasingly agitated when a retail worker refuses to give her a refund for a soft toy. "What do you tell the other employee - go ahead and give the refund or abide by store policy?," students are asked.
Students who sit the test must have a webcam that validates their identity, matching footage of the student with their photo ID.The videos are being remade for Australian students, who will be able to sit the test on specific dates from September 17 to February 8.
If students aren't offered a place, they can resit the test during the next selection round.Victorian Council of Deans of Education board member Professor Christine Ure, who is also the head of Deakin University's school of education, said universities would have liked longer to prepare for the rollout. But she said the test was accessible and would assess the non-academic qualities of those wanting to embark on teaching careers.
"You don't need to study for the test," she said. "It's just an assessment of their personal attributes."
A state government spokesman said the changes would allow highquality students into the profession so that Victorian students had "the best and brightest teachers in Australia".
From: Age, Melbourne by Henrietta Cook
06 Sep 2017