Teacher Quality Pseudofacts, Part II

In Part I, I looked at the Richwine/Biggs criteria for judging school teachers’ cognitive ability based on GRE scores, which primarily involves secondary school teachers.

On to undergraduate ed majors and those terrible, terrible SAT scores:

Students who indicated that education was their intended major earned a combined math and verbal score of 967, about 0.31 standard deviations below the average of 1,017, meaning the 38th percentile in a standard normal distribution.

Just last year, the National Council on Teacher Quality buried the lede in its research on student teaching:

Fewer than half of all education majors (or even intended education) majors become teachers. Can someone tell me why eduformers are always squawking about ed majors’ SAT scores?

Yes, elementary school teachers are less than stellar, academically speaking. But why not use data that directly links SAT scores to teachers? The Educational Testing Service released a report on teacher quality that is directly on point–so, naturally, eduformers ignore it.

In the 2002-2005 cohort, elementary school teachers’ combined SAT score was over 1000, nearly 40 points higher than the overall mean that Richwine and Biggs use. Secondary school teacher scores in academic subjects are much higher–math and science teachers are above the national average in both, and English/history teachers above in verbal and slightly below in math.

Now, these reports are only for 20 states and DC (California, for example, doesn’t use Praxis tests and so wouldn’t be included). But it’s far more accurate than SAT scores for ed majors.

But Biggs and Richwine use education major SAT scores, when a Google search reveals actual teacher SAT scores for a huge number of states, and then, as before, they conflate elementary and secondary school teacher scores (to say nothing of PE and special ed instructors).

I really don’t mind an argument about teacher salary. But the data used on teacher quality is simply crap. Next time out, I’ll talk about why eduformers mislead about teacher quality (apart from the obvious goal of saving in salary), and why progressives let them.


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