A recent post discussed a study by Dan Goldhaber and Joe Walch showing that teacher SAT scores are improving. Education Realist posted an interesting comment arguing that part of what’s going on is a composition effect. The suggestion is that various changes have reduced the fraction of teachers from minority groups, and that since these groups have lower SAT scores on average there hasn’t necessarily been a change in teacher-versus non-teacher scores test scores for any group.
I don’t have a complete answer to Education Realist’s suggestion, but I have put together a bit of evidence from the publicly available portion of Baccalaureate and Beyond. In order to rule out a composition effect I look at white education majors in 1999 and 2008. (Note that I have education majors, not actual teachers. There may be a difference.) I’ve measured the gap in SAT scores at the various percentiles of the teacher SAT distribution versus the same percentile for the non-teacher distribution.
You can see that education majors are closer to other majors all across the test score distribution, that is the red line is closer to zero than the blue line. For example, in 1999 the median education major had a 100 point lower SAT score than the median student in other majors. By 2008, gap had closed to only 60 points.
So I think it’s clear that relative education SATs are improving. Whether the improvement is big enough and how much SAT scores tell us about teacher ability are both fair questions. But the good news is real.