It would take a 10-percent increase in salary, combined with higher academic standards, to draw into teacher-education programs the kinds of students who would raise the average ability level of prospective teachers to that of college graduates overall, according to a study recently completed by Charles F. Manski, a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
In his research, Mr. Manski examined the career choices of a sample of high-school graduates from 1972 who completed college in 1976 or 1977. His data confirmed that people who chose teaching as a career tended to have lower Scholastic Aptitude Test scores than average college graduates and that their earnings also tended to be much lower.
Mr. Manski then used an economic model to determine what combination of salary increases and test requirements would raise the general academic level of the teaching force.
"Merely raising salaries would attract more good students to careers in teaching," Mr. Manski wrote in his report, "but it would not raise the average ability level of all teachers unless minimum ability standards were imposed as well."
He concluded that if teachers were required to score at least 800 points (out of a possible score of 1,600) on the sat, the average sat score of the teaching force would be raised from 950 to 1,017, which is near the average score of all college graduates.
But without a corresponding pay hike, that requirement would result in a 20-percent decline in the number of teachers, Mr. Manski found.
His economic model showed that to keep the number of teachers constant, salaries would have to be increased by 10 percent.
But to attract students with an average sat score of 1,130, a 40-percent salary increase would be required, his research indicated.
Mr. Manski said he developed the research project in response to a recommendation last fall by Herbert Grover, Wisconsin's superintendent of schools, that teachers' salaries be increased across the board.
Prospective teachers should be required to pass board examinations similar to those required in law, medicine, and engineering, argues a policy statement released recently by the executive committee of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges' council on academic affairs.
"The credentialing process for all public-school teachers should entail more than mere completion of a required course sequence," the report states. "Credentials might well be certified through the sucessful completion of a written examination administered by a state board composed largely of senior classroom teachers," the report suggests.
In addition to a professional examination, the committee suggested that colleges of education adopt five-year extended teacher-training programs and that teacher-training programs provide three distinct levels of subject matter for grades K-3, 4-6, and 7-12.--cc