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Bruno: Does Education Major GPA Matter?

4875964527_d2e67653f2I'm not the biggest defender of conventional teacher preparation in this country, but I think Dick Startz is misidentifying the problem when he complains that education schools seem to be grading their undergraduates too generously.

As he points out, education majors tend to have higher-than-average GPAs but only average GPAs in their STEM courses. This does probably indicate that education courses are easier than STEM courses at most colleges.

Does this mean our teachers are embarrassingly weak academically? Probably not.

First, it always helps to distinguish elementary and secondary teachers. Education majors that go into teaching are overwhelmingly taking elementary-level jobs; secondary teachers typically have bachelor's degrees related to the subjects they teach. Frankly, elementary teachers probably don't need as advanced of an understanding of any particular subject as their secondary counterparts.

Second, even if we assume STEM courses are more rigorous than education courses Startz's data - which come from here - indicate that education majors are still roughly average in terms of their academic competence.

Average, that is, among college students. Most people, however, don't have a college degree at all, which means that simply by earning a BA education majors enter the top third of American adults in terms of educational attainment.

That doesn't mean education majors are all well-prepared to teach, but as far as academic credentials go they're not bad. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)


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At this point, there are only two possible reasons for using "ed majors" as a synonym for teachers: deliberate intent to mislead or pig ignorance.

I'd be curious to know what fraction of teachers actually got their BA in education.

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