PDQ: Pretty Darn Quick Blog (retired)

Educator Quality Takes Another Slam: Abysmal GRE Scores Across the Board


A letter to the editor in today's Wall Street Journal brings more attention to the low academic performance of the average teacher with more meaningful data than just how well (or poorly) aspiring teachers perform on the SAT. On the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) which many teachers take before entering a Master's program, we find the best evidence to date of substandard performance for the nation's educators.

While the letter cited older data, more recent data from the ETS site tells a sorrowful tale. With the notable exception of secondary school teachers, the large majority of teachers score at the bottom. Out of the 50 intended graduate majors ETS collected data on, seven of the lowest scoring 10 majors on the list are education fields. Only one field--social work--scored lower.

The most popular choice of graduate degrees for teachers with aspirations for school or district leadership is a degree in education administration. The average GRE score was 948, comparing poorly with the national average score of 1058 for all fields of study.

Teachers pursuing degrees in early childhood (915) came in second to last on the list, slightly losing to special education (933), student counseling (927) and elementary (968).

Test takers intending to major in secondary education (1063) beat the national average on the GRE--more evidence supporting the benefits of a content area degree for teachers.

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