 "What Freakonomics did in raising our collective economic literacy, this book does for the economics of schooling." Kate Walsh, President, National Council on Teacher Quality
Tag Archives: master’s degrees
Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.
Ed degrees: bachelors vs masters
A quick picture of America’s annual production of new bachelor’s and master’s degree’s in education. The first thing to notice is that we’re giving out 40 percent more degrees than we did 20 years ago. The number of students has increased … Continue reading
GREs, master’s in education, and a comment
An earlier post about GRE scores for education students suggested that students heading toward graduate study in education look about the same GREwise as students in other disciplines on the verbal part of the test, but compare somewhat less favorably … Continue reading
6 Responses to GREs, master’s in education, and a comment

The two graphs have exactly the same title, but one of them is supposed to be the verbal score, right? I find your comment right below the graph a little puzzling. Hard to make those judgments from the graphs only. What are the means and the medians, and maybe even selected percentiles, or quartiles? Thanks!

“You seem to be asserting, though, that because it does not directly assess more advanced math knowledge that the test is a poor indicator of math skills (otherwise I’m not sure why you included point 2). ”
No. I’m saying that it’s absurd to argue that the GRE is easier than a *real* math test, as he does here “At the same time, understand that the quant part of the test is not testing high level math skills. “–implicitly saying yeah, they did okay, but this is not testing higher level math, so we can’t assume much about their math skills. This is an IQ test, testing extremely well on it says nothing about your higher level math knowledge but says a great deal about your intelligence. It also says a fair amount about your basic numeracy.
“800 quant score beats the average of most math grad programs isn’t surprising”
If you follow his premise, that this is low level math and therefore we should have high expectations, then by definition anyone entering an advanced math program should completely ace it and yawn about it. It should be a nobrainer–how on earth could you miss something on this test and expect to get into the math/engineering doctoral program?
Now, in fact, the expectations for an elite phD program and the GRE Quant are very high–most will tell you that if you don’t get a 750 or higher, don’t bother applying. But 750 is the top 15% not top 1%, and again, if we are to view the GRE solely as an indicator of math skills, that’s ridiculous for everyone not to get a perfect 800. In fact, only 4% of the people who take it (regardless of specialty) get an 800 (the quant. Again, the verbal is much much harder, and I cover why here: http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/thegapinthegre/
“Even if the test is purely an IQ test, and IQ is correlated with better math teachers, then raising the bar on GRE scores for educators makes sense on some level, which is all the author is saying. ”
One of the HUGE problems with his entire argument is that there is next to no correlation with IQ/GRE/SAT/teacher credentialing scores. And that, I cover here in a few places:
http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/itsthetestszitbrains/
But from there, you may want to check out the Mumford links.
The entire premise of his argument is completely flawed, although of course he’s just doing what all the reformers do on teacher quality. Nothing unique to him. All that raising teacher requirements will do is completely wipe out black and Hispanic teachers, and there’s a nontrivial amount of research showing that teacher *race*, particularly in the case of black teachers, is correlated with student outcomes.

1) So now that you’ve begun separating by elementary and secondary, you need to start separating secondary by subject. What’s really important is that math and science teachers do well on the math section, and about 20% of secondary teachers scored above 700, and another 27% scored between 600690. Those are probably the math and science teachers.
2) The GRE is normally distributed. If, as your thinking suggests, low level math means that college graduates should ALL score above 700, a standard you apparently only hold for secondary teachers. But your thinking is wrong. The old GRE (it changed a couple years ago) was largely an IQ test, only incidentally a math test. What the secondary school scores suggest is that high school teachers who get a credential through grad school are roughly distributed by intelligence in the same manner as the rest of college graduates. By the way, I scored an 800 on the GRE quant section, and a 790 on the verbal (only 2% of the population got above 700 on that test). I majored in English, yet got a score on a “low level math test” that beats the average for advanced math grad programs at pretty much any elite school you can think of. Again, it’s an IQ test.
You might want to take a look at the followup, Teacher Quality Pseudofacts II, because it directlyo addresses your misconceptions on the SAT scores of teachers. http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/teacherqualitypseudofactspartii/
In general, it’s a really, really bad idea to discuss teacher quality without reading ETS. There’s tons of data on teacher test scores, and you’re trying to reinvent the wheel with advocacy propaganda.

Ed Realist,
I completely agree with your first point: breaking down scores by subject would certainly provide a clearer picture. However, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make after that.
The quant portion of the GRE does resemble an IQ test; it uses relatively low level math to assess reasoning and problem solving, which is likely why 10% of testtakers achieve the top score. You seem to be asserting, though, that because it does not directly assess more advanced math knowledge that the test is a poor indicator of math skills (otherwise I’m not sure why you included point 2). Even if the test is purely an IQ test, and IQ is correlated with better math teachers, then raising the bar on GRE scores for educators makes sense on some level, which is all the author is saying.
Side note – saying that your 800 quant score beats the average of most math grad programs isn’t surprising, a single 790 admit could cause that. Admission offices weigh other criteria, it would be surprising if their average was 800.

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Becoming a teacher: undergraduate versus graduate degree
According to the Digest of Education Statistics, in 201011 there were 104,000 bachelor’s degrees in education and 185,000 master’s degrees. This has left me wondering how many out of that large number of master’s are credentialed teachers going back for … Continue reading
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Tagged AACTE, Digest of Education Statistics, master's degrees, Teacher supply
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US News and World Report mention
Readers might be interested to see that Profit of Education and material from some of my earlier posts are included in a just out article in US News and World Report. The topic is whether a master’s degree is a worthwhile … Continue reading
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Academic ability of graduate students in education
About half of all teachers acquire master’s degrees. What do we know about how the academic ability of graduate students in education compares to graduate students in other disciplines? I’ve put together a picture using ETS data, but a few … Continue reading
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Paying for master’s degrees
You probably know the following fact: Almost half of teachers have master’s degrees. In fact, more masters are given in education than in any other subject. My surmise has always been that the driving force behind the huge number of … Continue reading
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What training characteristics make for a good teacher? Who knows–again!
Matthew Chingos and Paul Peterson looked through a massive data set of Florida teachers, linking up the valueadded scores of each teacher’s students with the teacher’s training and experience. (“It’s easier to pick a good teacher than to train one.”) … Continue reading
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Tagged master's degrees, Matthew Chingos, Paul Peterson, teacher experience, value added model
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Master’s degrees and money
Eric Larsen provides some nice quantitative analysis about why so many teachers earn master’s degrees in “Teacher MA attainment rates, 19702000.” First the fact: the fraction of teachers with a master’s more than doubled between 1970 and 2000, the numbers going … Continue reading
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Master’s degree salaries and master’s degreeed
Just like the rest of us, teachers respond to financial incentives. Other things count as well, of course, but financial incentives do matter. I thought I’d illustrate this with a graphical factoid. (I say “factoid” because there’s nothing terribly sophisticated … Continue reading
2 Responses to Master’s degree salaries and master’s degreeed

I guess once you’ve dropped IL and OR the relationship will be even more dramatic.
That brings up a question: are there exogenous factors that make OR and IL look “odd”?
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Inspiration and paying for master’s degrees
I was so inspired by the comparisons of salaries for teachers with masters degrees versus bachelor degrees only in the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Restructuring Teacher Pay To Reward Excellence that I decided to make a map of my own. At … Continue reading
2 Responses to Ed degrees: bachelors vs masters