What is the point of doing the LANTITE?

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Why do I need to do the LANTITE?

  • Raise the profile of teaching as a profession.
  • Develops a stronger teacher identity.
  • Improved the quality of literacy and numeracy teaching at universities.

The LANTITE has become a hurdle that every pre-service teacher in Australia needs to jump. It’s a literacy and numeracy test that studying teachers must pass to prove that they are in the top 30% of the Australian population. 

It has been quite controversial. There are a number of issues around it being discriminatory or irrelevant, and there is research that shows that it has had a negative impact on the well-being of our pre-service teachers.1

There is a reason why it has been implemented, though. Whether it is actually fulfilling this purpose is a different and more complex discussion, but the LANTITE has had a couple of positive impacts. Some of these were intentional and predicted, but others are more interesting.

Raise the profile of teaching as a profession.

This was one of the key reasons why the LANTITE was even conceived. If you’re a teacher, you’ve certainly heard it before. Those who can’t do, teach. Teaching is a fall-back. Teaching is never considered an ‘aspirational’ profession by those who think that they can do better. 

We even hear this from our own families. I come from a family of teachers and when I was in high school and mentioned to my mum (a teacher) that I might want to become a teacher, she laughed and said that I could do better. I have absolutely nothing against my mum, she’s so proud that I did pursue this profession, but the idea is still there. 

A clock sits on a table next to a standardised literacy and numeracy test while there are teachers completing the LANTITE in the background.
The LANTITE was introduced for a purpose, but is it serving that purpose?

We always hear about teaching in Finland. How teaching there is so wonderful, and teachers are well-respected and supported. So many school systems in the Western world aspire to be like Finland. One of the more measurable differences is that teachers there are required to have a Master’s degree to be a registered teacher. This is unlikely to be the lynchpin that holds Finnish schools together, but it is something that you can look at objectively and start to emulate. 

So we now have a literacy and numeracy test. It does seem a little shallow, and like a screening tool rather than something that actually assesses the quality of a teacher. The benefit is though, that the standard is something that the general public understands. Any other measure of quality teaching doesn’t matter when what you’re trying to do is improve the perception to the general public.

Develops a stronger teacher identity.

I’ve written a lot about teaching personas recently, so I want to make sure that this distinction is very clear. Your teaching persona is the face that you put on while you’re in a classroom in front of students, or even when you see a student in the grocery store on the weekend. Your teacher identity is how you feel about yourself. It’s what you know that you’re good at, the value that you get out of your work, and the difference that you know that you’re making. It’s the pride that you take in your work and how you see your role in the lives of your students.

Some research has shown that the introduction of the LANTITE, with it’s purpose of making teaching a more highly valued profession, made the teachers who went through it feel different about themselves.2 They felt like they had become a part of a more highly respected profession, that they had met the standard that the general public expects. 

A young graduate teacher sits in a darkened room to complete the LANTITE
The LANTITE has affected teaching in Australia, whether it was the intended effect or not.

This is a bit different from the purpose I’ve stated above, but it is similar. Its effects are more measurable, and it does have an impact. Holding yourself to a higher standard does make it easier to meet that standard. We say it over and over again about our students, that we need to set high expectations. 

Improved the quality of literacy and numeracy teaching at universities.

Universities are under a lot of pressure to get people to pass and then get them a job. People aren’t going to want to attend a university where half of the students couldn’t even get their degree because they weren’t literate or numerate enough according to a standardised test. 

Universities are under a lot of pressure and not everything that comes out of this pressure is diamonds, but there has been a noticeable increase in focus on literacy and numeracy teaching as a part of teaching degrees in Australia.3 Universities are being forced to recognise it’s importance, and so the result is a greater focus on developing resources and supporting students to build their skills in these areas. 

If this continues, the LANTITE may not end up being a screening device to exclude teachers as it is often perceived. It may be that now, but as it becomes the norm, teachers will be raised up to meet that standard. Making sure that our future teachers are well-prepared for this test is something that will become more of a focus, and even though it isn’t the be all and end all of the profession, more highly skilled teachers is always a good thing.

References:

1Hilton, A. L., Saunders, R., & Mansfield, C. (2020). ” In LANTITE, no one can hear you scream!” student voices of high-stakes testing in teacher education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education (Online), 45(12), 57-72.

2Burke, J., Sellings, P., & Nelson, N. (2020). Pre-service Teacher Perceptions of LANTITE: Complexity Theory in Action?. In Teacher Education in Globalised Times (pp. 139-157). Springer, Singapore.

3Bardon, M., Ianna, T., Lee, A., Nolan, K., Salem, K., & Seibert, L. (2018). LANTITE: A driver for innovative literacy and numeracy practices. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 12(1), A254-A266.

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