[Listening to: ‘Shark Fin Blues‘ by the Drones; ‘Pink Frost 13‘ by the Chills; ‘Manic Depression‘ by the Drones; ‘Unkind & Unwise‘ by the Go-Betweens; ‘Universel‘ by Palta]
In my last post, I wrote about the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education students (LANTITE). Today, I submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) for a copy of a May 2020 report on the implementation of LANTITE. This report was mentioned in a September 28 article by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Education Editor, Jordan Baker, who had obtained it via an FOI request. I searched online for the report but I couldn’t find it so I submitted my own FOI request to DESE (you can go here to find out how to do this yourself).
Within a couple of hours, DESE’s FOI Team had sent me the document and also mentioned that it is “is available for public access on the department’s disclosure log”. I’d never heard of a disclosure log before but found DESE’s here; there’s an entry in the log for the LANTITE review and a link to this page, according to which the actual report is “not currently available to download.” Instead, you are invited to email FOI@Education.gov.au if you would like a copy. It shouldn’t be this difficult to access a key report about an important instrument of public policy (or share it with you here – WordPress also makes that difficult!).
I’m reading the report now for the first time; as I go, I’ll share some excerpts and some comments. On first impressions, though, it’s by far the most comprehensive and informative document about LANTITE, its history, its implementation and its consequences currently available.
The report was produced earlier in 2020 for DESE by a consultancy called dandolopartners. A few interesting facts about dandolo:
- The firm is named after a 12th century Venician doge named Enrico Dandolo, known for encouraging, funding and profiting from the sack of Constantinople at the culmination of the Fourth Crusade – a strange and concerning choice of namesake.
- Its director is Bronte Adams, Rhodes Scholar and former McKinsey & Co consultant.
- Another of its directors, Joe Connell, a former Big 4 consultant, conducted the LANTITE review.
- Their ‘Project Partner’ is Pete Goss, another former consultant and a recent recruit from the Grattan Institute – you might know him from his articles in The Conversation and Nine-Fairfax papers.
The process which lead up to the release of the report is shown in his graphic, from page 36:
On page 1, the report notes the following aspects of LANTITE which are ‘out of scope’:
So, if dandolo aren’t looking into these important areas, who is?
Page 4 refers to LANTITE implementation decisions made at three different levels – central, state and Higher Education Provider (HEP) – and to some serious consequences of these decisions: students being unable to graduate, false negative test results, test anxiety, a deterrent effect, and access.
This is an important acknowledgement that there are widespread concerns about LANTITE and its implementation. These concerns are a matter of significant public importance; as such, the Federal Education Minister, Dan Tehan, has a responsibility to share them publicly and to take urgent action to address them.
This shows the different requirements that have been established in different states and territories:
Actually, as I read the report, it becomes clearer and clearer that, whatever the psychometric qualities of the test (and we currently know *nothing* about those) the implementation of the test has been an appalling, avoidable mess. Every page reveals more of its overwhelming scale and severity.
Here are a few more excerpts, each of which reveals its own special knot of failures and consequences needing urgent attention:
It’s clear that no one – not state governments, Teacher Registration Authorities (TRAs), HEPs or students – have had enough time, information and guidance to make informed and consistent decisions, and this has led to a cascade of negative consequences. This must surely rank as one of the largest and most egregious failures of policy implementation in Australian education history. And it is just utterly shameful that it has taken four years for this analysis to be conducted. We are still waiting for it to properly shared or acted on.
Then, on page 14, we see this:
And, squashed into the bottom right hand corner, is this:
I find this truly alarming, saddening and appalling. It indicates that Indigenous students are overrepresented amongst the students who fail LANTITE, on their first attempt (“the ‘meets later’ cohort”) or on any of their subsequent attempts (“the ‘never meets’ cohort”). It undermines ACER’s claim that LANTITE test questions “are carefully scrutinised in an ongoing attempt to minimise gender, ethnic or religious bias, and to ensure the test is culturally fair.” On the contrary, it suggests that LANTITE is biased against Indigenous test-takers. It suggests that ACER, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the Education Minister Dan Tehan, and HEPs have been aware of this since at least May 2020 but have said nothing about it publicly and, as far as we know, done nothing about it. Also, the Sydney Morning Herald Education Editor, Jordan Baker, who wrote about this report on September 28, either didn’t notice this section at all or just didn’t find it important enough to report on. Meanwhile, thousands more students around Australia have registered for, taken and failed LANTITE.
This, to me, reveals shocking callousness, incompetence and negligence. And there is still much more to learn about this test, its implementation, its consequences and its psychometric qualities – stay tuned 🙂