More than 30 years of research strongly supports the link between teacher quality and increased student achievement. Studies identify teaching as one of the most challenging professions, requiring teachers to make an average of 1,200 critical decisions a day. It is not surprising that preparation programs must attract the best and brightest candidates if students in the American school system are to succeed. Exemplary international education systems recruit 100% of teachers from the top third of university students. In the United States only 25% meet this standard. U.S. preparation programs exacerbate the problem with easy grading, awarding students significantly higher grades than students in other academic departments. Effective outreach in the United States is further hindered by a perceived lack of respect for the profession as teachers are often blamed for failing schools. The undervaluing of the profession is apparent in teacher compensation. American teachers earn significantly less than other college graduates. Recommendations for improving this situation include increasing admission standards, making pre-service more rigorous, and compensating teachers commensurate with the demands of the job.