Here’s a short graphic on the SAT scores of students who pass the Praxis licensing test. (The graphic is copied from the ETS publication “Teacher Quality in a Changing Policy Landscape: Improvements in the Teacher Pool.” I was led to it by EdRealist.) While this doesn’t cover all potential teachers, it does do a nice job of dicing the data by specialty area.
You can see immediately that students passing the Elementary Education Praxis do worse than average on the verbal part of the SAT and considerably worse on the math section. In contrast, students passing the Mathematics Praxis are somewhat above average on the verbal SAT and a lot above average on the math SAT.
Pictures can be deceiving. Are the shorter bars for those passing the elementary ed test lower in a meaningful way? One way to think about this is to ask where the average SAT score for a group occurs in the overall distribution of SAT scores. I backed out this number using Baccalaureate and Beyond data. (The “backing out” is rougher than I’d like it to be–you’ve been warned.)
On the verbal test, elementary ed Praxis passers fall about 8 percentiles below the general college graduate. On the math test, the elementary ed Praxis passers are lower by about 12 percentiles.
Neither of these strikes as good–since I think the average teacher should look like an above average college grad–but neither the lower verbal nor the lower math scores are huge compared to the average grad.