Andrew Leigh and Chris Ryan are certainly busy econometrists. (Unfortunately at the moment the web sites at ANU of both are not accessible.) Their thing in recent years has been the decline in the quality of those seeking to become teachers. For example:
…we were able to track entry scores at one of Australia’s most distinguished universities, the University of Sydney. In 1977, the cut-off for entry into a bachelor of education (365 out of 500) was nearly as high as law (390), and well above our own discipline of economics (284). But in 2005 the cut-off for entry into a bachelor of education (86.4) was below economics (91.1) and substantially below law (99.6).
The drop in Australian teacher quality is consistent with the findings of US researchers Sean Corcoran, William Evans and Robert Schwab, who estimate that the typical new female teacher in the US was at the 65th percentile in the early 1970s but at the 46th percentile in 2000.
Should we worry if the literacy and numeracy of new teachers has fallen? As the footy aphorism goes, a good player does not always make a good coach. Yet all else being equal, evidence from overseas studies suggests that children learn more when their teachers are more academically talented.
As well as charting the decline, our research also attempts to understand its causes. One factor that seems to have changed substantially during this period is average teacher pay. Compared with non-teachers with a degree, average teacher pay fell by more than 10 per cent during the period 1983 to 2003.
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