By Sarah D. Sparks
The academic strength of new teachers has been getting better, not worse, for the last decade, according to a new longitudinal study of educators in New York state.
Moreover, academically strong teachers are becoming more equitably distributed across all public schools—both high- and low-poverty—that serve the Empire State's 2.7 million public K-12 students.
"We find increasing academic ability of individuals entering teaching," said Luke C. Miller, a co-author of the study and a research assistant education professor at the University of Virginia, at a research symposium here last month at the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. "We believe this is a signal that the status of the teaching profession is increasing."
Mr. Miller and researchers from the University of Albany, Stanford University, North Carolina State University, and the University of Virginia studied administrative data from 1986 to 2010 on New York teachers.
The researchers found broad improvements over that time period in the average combined mathematics and language scores on the SAT college-entrance exam for newly certified and newly hired teachers, as well as increases in the selectivity of the colleges to which they were admitted before they were certified. The average teacher hired in New York in 2010 had scores more than 25 percent higher than in 1999, and in New York City alone, the portion of new teachers who scored in the top third of SAT takers nationally rose from about 20 percent in 2000 to nearly 40 percent a decade later.