Literacy teaching PD a ‘matter of priority’

Kerri Carr

Report advocates for the early development of expertise in teaching literacy K-2

Primary teachers’ literacy teaching skills should be appraised to identify areas for improvement, and continuing professional development ensured, a recent draft Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) report recommends.

“Employers/supervisors should, as a matter of priority, collaborate with teachers to identify continuing development opportunities for literacy teaching and incorporate such opportunities in teacher professional development plans,” the report states.

It found there were “not enough primary teachers with advanced knowledge and skills in teaching early years students how to read”.

The report recommends that BOSTES support primary teachers with literacy expertise to be accredited at the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher levels of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, and that these teachers share responsibility for practicum supervision, supervision of early career teachers and school-based continuing professional development.

Federation Research Officer Mary Fogarty said the Department of Education and Communities (DEC) would need to identify teachers with literacy expertise and provide release time for them to undertake these extra duties.

Consultancy positions in the area of literacy education should be re-established by DEC to provide professional development for early career teachers, Dr Fogarty said.

A professional development module on supervising professional experience students should be commissioned, BOSTES says. The module should incorporate methods of facilitating literacy teaching experiences for practicum students.

To ensure early development of expertise in teaching literacy K-2, the report recommends that early career teachers receive targeted professional experiences and development opportunities as they work towards accreditation at Proficient Teacher level of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

In universities, primary initial teacher education programs “should include a substantial focus within and/or across units on how to teach reading K-2”.

“Many primary initial teacher education students are not getting adequate exposure to and practice in developing literacy/reading teacher skills during their professional experience,” the report states, and advocates that each primary teacher education student should teach reading during practicum.

From 2016, teacher education students in NSW will need to pass literacy and numeracy tests before they start their final professional placement.