CBS News ^| June 20, 2011 | Lynn O'Shaughnessy
A college degree is just about essential to make a lot of money in a career, but what if you don't want to work all that hard to get a diploma?
Slackers wanting to earn the country's easiest college major, should major in education.
It's easy to get "A's" if you're an education major. Maybe that's why one out of 10 college graduates major in education.
Research over the years has indicated that education majors, who enter college with the lowest average SAT scores, leave with the highest grades. Some of academic evidence documenting easy A's for future teachers goes back more than 50 years!
The latest damning report on the ease of majoring in education comes from research at the University of Missouri, my alma mater. The study, conducted by economist Cory Koedel shows that education majors receive "substantially higher" grades than students in every other department. Puff GPA's Koedel examined the grades earned by undergraduates during the 2007-2008 school year at three large state universities that include sizable education programs -- University of Missouri, Miami (OH) University and Indiana University. The researcher compared the grades earned by education majors with the grades earned by students in 12 other majors including biology, economics, English, history, philosophy, mathematics, chemistry, psychology and sociology.
Education majors enjoyed grade point averages that were .5 to .8 grade points higher than students in the other college majors. At the University of Missouri, for instance, the average education major has a 3.80 GPA versus 2.99 GPA (science, math, econ majors), 3.12 GPA (social science majors) and 3.16 GPA (humanities majors).
Consequences of Easy Grades for Education Majors
Why should we care if education majors, who must survive classes like "kiddie lit," coast through school?
For starters, easy grading can prompt students to slack off. If you can earn an "A" with little effort why exert yourself? What's more, if most students are getting A's then how can employers distinguish the future teaching stars from the academic slugs?
Koedel also suggests that the low academic standards required of education majors can extend to low expectation of teachers after they leave college.
"Low grading standards in education departments may contribute to the culture of low evaluation standards in education more generally. Although the existence of such a link is merely speculative at this point, there is a striking similarity between the favorable grades awarded to prospective teachers during university training and the favorable evaluations that teachers receive in K-12 schools."
It sounds like the only ones who are flunking these days are the education professors, who are handing out all these easy A's. These profs should spend time with teachers in departments like chemistry and economics to see how real grading works.