SAT scores and other measures of academic success could be on the rise for teachers just entering the workforce, according to a new study from University of Washington, Bothell, researchers Dan Goldhaber and Joe Walch.
The finding appears in the most recent issue of Harvard University’s Education Next Journal under the headline “Gains in teacher quality.” Goldhaber and Walch assert that long-standing concern about U.S. teachers’ academic proficiency may be overstated, pointing to a 5-percentile point gain on new teachers’ SAT scores between 1993-94 and 2008-09.
Moreover, the study finds, new instructors are now likely to have received their teaching degree in the form of a master’s in education—up from 45 percent in 1990 to 63 percent in 2010. The researchers also note that undergraduate GPAs have increased among new teachers but say variations in grading standards make the measure less significant.
Even though “the data are encouraging,” Goldhaber and Walch acknowledge the trend might not be sustainable: “The high unemployment rate in 2009 may have led more high-scoring graduates to choose to pursue comparatively stable and secure teaching jobs rather than occupations that were viewed as riskier in the economic downturn.”