Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.
October 31, 2013 at 3:44 PM
Are new teachers getting smarter? UW study finds increase in SAT scores, GPA
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.”
About the authors
Katherine Long has been a reporter for The Seattle Times since 1990, focusing for the past three years on higher ed, with stories that have ranged from the complexities of prepaid tuition programs to nontraditional ways to earn a degree.
Claudia Rowe joined The Seattle Times’ reporting staff in 2013. She has written about education for The New York Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, among other publications.
Mike Siegel has been a news photographer at the Seattle Times since 1987. His photography was used in a series titled "Methadone and the Politics of Pain," which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for investigative reporting.
Janet Horne Henderson is The Times’ education editor. She has directed award-winning stories and projects examining race, immigration, religion and health, in addition to education
Caitlin Moran is community engagement editor for Education Lab. Her role is to help foster constructive dialogue online and in person
Read extended bios.
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