Teachers Not Academic Stars

Published February 1, 2000

National Education Association president Bob Chase complained that John Stossel’s 20/20 program, “Public Schools in Bad Shape,” was “a shocking attack on America’s public school teachers, portraying them as poorly educated, incompetent, and dim.” Defending teachers, Chase quoted from a May 1999 study from the Educational Testing Service, which found “teachers in academic subject areas” had academic skills equal to or higher than their college peers.

But, as the Education Intelligence Agency’s Mike Antonucci points out, the vast majority of public school teachers are not certified in “academic subject areas,” which are math, science, English, and foreign languages. According to the ETS report, more than half of the teaching population is comprised of teachers who have an elementary education certification and test scores that are a combined 129 SAT points lower than other college graduates.

The ETS study concludes: “In the career selection process that takes place during college, the group of students who choose teaching as a career, taken as a whole, are not as high-achieving as their college peers with respect to SAT scores.”