Current rating scale given the boot

Teachers across the Latrobe Valley received notification their current performance review scheme has been amended.

In a letter sent to schools last week, State Education Minister James Merlino said the current rating scale for teacher performance reviews installed by the previous State Government would stop immediately.

The Australian Education Union held concerns the rating scale, which split teacher performance into four categories – does not meet expectations, partially meets expectations, meets expectations and exceeds expectations – would be used in enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations down the track to offer higher pay rates to those who exceeded expectations.

AEU Gippsland organiser Jeff Gray said if performance pay schemes had been implemented, principals would be forced to rank teachers from best to worse, which would prove divisive.

“The previous government wanted to make the performance review more difficult because they thought nearly everyone passed it so it must be easy,” Mr Gray said.

“What (the Coalition Government) wanted to do is that the principal would have to fail 20 per cent of their staff.

“If they were due for their annual increment they wouldn’t get it.”

Removing any numerical score from the review process, the reinstated previous method will give qualitative feedback to teachers on whether they met or did not meet expectations.

Mr Merlino’s letter came in the less than a fortnight after the Federal Education Department released a study which advised the government that university education faculties were accepting too many year 12 leavers with low ATAR scores.

Titled Action Now, Classroom Ready Teachers and conducted by the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, the report aims to make education systems more efficient and suggests ATARs should be of higher importance when selecting future teachers.

Mr Gray agrees with the study’s findings and believes a minimum ATAR score should be put in place for potential education students to raise the bar.

“Although there are a lot of qualities you can’t measure directly including empathy and communication, you do require the intellect to understand the curriculum,” Mr Gray said.

“From our point of view, there is a correlation, to raise the standard of the profession and to raise the prestige having people with very high ATAR scores wanting to come in is a positive.”

Mr Gray said it was common for universities to offer students with low scores entry into education courses to make money.

“There are too many graduates coming out unable to find jobs,” Mr Gray said.

“If they set really low ATAR scores then they can bring in a lot more students and make money out them.”