Paralleling increased state involvement in teacher certification is the increase in teachers’ educational credentials, especially in public schools. For example, in 1971, over two-thirds of public-school teachers had a B.A., while only 27 percent had a master’s or education specialist’s degree. By 1991, however, over half of public school teachers (52.6 percent) had a master’s or education specialist’s degree. In contrast, the proportion of private-school teachers with advanced degrees remained much lower, at around 33 percent in 1993. This is perhaps not surprising since private-school teachers are less experienced and less likely to be state-certified. Still, the trend is clearly one of increasing education for public-school teachers…A controversial aspect of increasing teacher education is the fact that few teachers specialize in an academic subject; rather, their major field is typically education itself. The value of an education major is often disputed (see e.g., Dale Ballou, 1996). Teacher education is related to teacher testing because, as with law schools and the bar exam, a central mission of teacher education programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level has become the preparation of students for state certification and tests…[T]here is also no evidence that testing hurdles have raised the quality of new and inexperienced teachers, at least as measured by undergraduate background. The lack of an effect on quality is of special concern in light of the fact that tests appear to reduce Hispanic representation in teaching.
American Economic Review 94, no. 2 (2004): 241–46