, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 351-367

Teachers’ unions and excellence in education: An analysis of the decline in SAT scores

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Controversy surrounds the recent finding that college entrance exams are lower today than they were twenty years ago, but little empirical evidence has been offered in the debate. This paper uses cross-sectional regression analysis to examine the decline in SAT scores between 1972 and 1983. Three explanations are tested: the changing social environment, the financial resources devoted to education, and the emergence of militant teacher unions. The results show teacher unionism to be the most significant factor in the decline in scores.

I wish to thank David Laband, Henry Butler, and Charles Baird for their helpful comments. I am also grateful to the Shearman Foundation for its financial support and to the College Board for making available its data. Of course, none of the above are responsible for any errors, nor do they necessarily agree with my methods or conclusions.