We’re mediocre! We’re mediocre!
Compared to teachers in other countries, U.S. teachers are “perfectly mediocre” in cognitive skills, writes Dick Startz, a University of California at Santa Barbara economics professor, on Brookings’ Chalkboard. “American teachers seem to be a touch above average in literacy skills and noticeably below average in numeracy,” he writes, citing a paper based on data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies.
U.S. teachers do as well as other American college graduates in literacy, but are weaker in math than college-educated Americans or teachers overseas, researchers found.
However, the U.S. gets “much better teachers than we pay for,” writes Startz. Compared to other college graduates with similar skills, teachers are underpaid, the analysis concluded.
Researchers said raising pay could attract higher-skilled people to teaching, reports Education Week.
“The estimates here indicate that teachers are paid some 20 percent less than a comparable college graduate elsewhere in the U.S. economy after adjusting for observable characteristics,” wrote Eric Hanushek of Stanford’s Hoover Institution and his German coauthors.
Teachers’ cognitive skills have a “robust impact” on student performance, the study concluded.
Countries with top-performing schools “recruit their teachers from the top third” of graduates, a 2007 McKinsey study found.