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Research shows

Academic ability of new teachers rises in NY

New York Teacher

The academic capability of new teachers in New York City has risen over the past 15 years, new research shows.

Between 1999 and 2010, the average SAT scores of New York City college students receiving their teaching certification increased by 18 percent, and the SAT scores of entering teachers in New York City improved by 49 percent, according to the study published in Educational Researcher.

The test score gains were particularly pronounced among teachers hired to work in high-poverty schools, which resulted in a substantial reduction of the academic ability gap of teachers hired at affluent versus high-poverty schools.

To measure academic ability, researcher Hamilton Lankford of the University of Albany and four colleagues at other universities examined the reading and math SAT scores of the 400,000 teachers who were certified or hired to teach in New York State from the 1985–86 to the 2007–08 school years, compared with all SAT takers in public schools in New York over a similar period.

The researchers found that the SAT scores of those entering teaching declined by about 13 percent from 1986 through 1999. But then the scores began to gradually rise after the state Board of Regents embraced alternative certification and began to disallow emergency licenses.

By 2010, entering teachers had SAT scores that were more than 27 percent above the scores of those hired in 1999. By 2010, teachers drawn from the top third of SAT scores made up more than 40 percent of all entering teachers.

The researchers found that these gains in academic standing did not come at the expense of a reduction in diversity of the teaching force. The number of minority teachers entering the profession increased from less than 16 percent of the sample in 1986 to 24 percent by 2010. The average SAT score of entering minority teachers increased 40 percent between 1999 and 2010, outpacing the 26 percent increase among entering white teachers.

The researchers speculated that the higher caliber of students entering the profession may indicate a renewed interest in teaching in public schools and the rising status of the teaching profession.

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