Secondary teachers are smarter

While would-be elementary teachers have below-average SAT and GRE scores, aspiring secondary subject-matter teachers compare well to other students, writes Education Realist.

The Richwine-Biggs study (pdf), which concludes teachers have lower cognitive skills than workers with similar education levels, combines elementary and secondary teachers, Realist complains.

Secondary teachers specializing in a subject — English, history, math, science — have “much stronger academic histories” than elementary, special education and phys ed teachers, ETS reports (pdf).


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  1. This data supports the observations I’ve always made that academically-oriented teachers prefer to teach the upper grades while the social-emotionally oriented teachers prefer the lower grades.

  2. Ahh, another Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute “study”, non-peer reviewed, and based on a “study” done at one college. There’s also a bonus footnote from Jay Greene of the Manhattan Institute, making this the trifecta of right wing nut job disinformation

    • Mike in Texas, if you have concrete objections to the study’s methodology or conclusions, please list them. But if your objection is that the sponsoring think tank’s bias doesn’t match your bias, you’re not adding anything to the discussion.

      • Norm,

        Did you see where I made the point it draws conclusions from info gathered from one college, and their “study” is not peer reviewed?

        • It’s been over a decade since I had my stats class, but as I remember it, a well-constructed study can have sound methodology and be valid even given tight parameters. Peer review also is external to the study itself. I ask again: What are your objections to the study’s methodology or conclusions?

    • Come on Mike, do tell us about the methodological shortcomings of the study.

      • Come on Allen, tell me about the methodological excellence of the study.

        Outside of the “reformer” world, studies are published in peer-review journals, not release to the press as a “working paper”

        • So, another bit of research which reveals unappatizing, to you, truths and with which you can find no substantive shortcoming, probably because you’re incomptent to analyze the work, so you resort name-calling. Hardly anything new about that, hey Mike?

          By the way Mike, Michigan just got rid of our cap on charter schools. How long do you think it’ll be before Texas follows suit?

          • Well Allen, it depends on how much money the “reformers” are wiling to spend to buy up the state politicians.

            Eventually people will realize that charters, despite all the advantages they have such as selecting their students and kicking them out when they don’t achieve, still can’t do as well as the public schools.

            And THAT little tidbit is from actual, peer-reviewed and published studies.

        • Roger Sweeny says:


          Many studies are first released as working papers, then submitted to a journal for peer review and journal publication. This serves three purposes. One, people can critique it before it becomes set in type forever. Two, potentially useful results can see the light of day earlier. Three, it provides publicity (and eventually, money) for the researchers and the institution they work for. Re three, lots of institutions are getting aggressive about releasing research results before journal publication. As I recall, the recent potential “faster than light” neutrinos was an example of two.

          Of course, most “think tank” studies are never submitted for outside journal publication and never get outside peer review. This can result in crappy, agenda-driven studies. However, I have seen lots of peer reviewed articles that are also crappy and agenda-driven. Peer review is a very imperfect filter, letting lots of useless comfortable research get through but stopping things that rub the reviewer(s) the wrong way.

  3. palisadesk says:

    I didn’t see where in the study it pointed out (what ETS data show) that education administrators have the lowest SAT and GRE scores of all — well below those of teachers.

    Oops, that would throw the monkey wrench into “site based management” and teacher evaluation by those cognitively challenged “leaders.”

    Dumb and dumber?