From Chronicles of Higher Education News Blog:

The teachers entering the nation’s classrooms are more academically qualified than those who entered teaching a decade ago, and policies holding colleges of education more accountable deserve at least part of the credit, a report released today says.

The report, “Teacher Quality in a Changing Policy Landscape,” from the Educational Testing Service’s Policy Information Center, compared the academic qualifications of teachers who took the Praxis licensure tests in the 2002-5 period with the qualifications of teachers who took the tests in the 1994-7 period. It found that the share of candidates for teaching positions reporting a college grade-point average higher than 3.5 had risen from 27 percent to 40 percent, while the percentage of candidates reporting a GPA below 3.0 had dropped from 32 to 20. The SAT scores for candidates for teaching positions also had risen significantly; on average, those passing the Praxis test during the 2002-5 period had an average SAT verbal score 13 points higher than those who took the test eight years earlier.

The report credits “a confluence of policy changes at the federal, state, and institutional levels” for improvements in the academic quality of teachers. Among the policies it specifically cites as having an impact are stricter admissions standards for teacher-education programs; changes in accreditation requirements that put more emphasis on how much is learned by students in teacher education programs; and a provision in the Higher Education Act, as reauthorized in 1998, requiring all states and institutions that prepare teachers to report licensure test passing rates.

The report’s author says it also contains some bad news: Today’s pool of prospective teachers is no more diverse than was the case a decade ago, and those who seek certification in elementary education, physical education, or special education continue to have relatively weak GPA’s and SAT scores. —Peter Schmidt

Link: “Teacher Quality in a Changing Policy Landscape”