Public education has no shortage of inefficiencies in need of reform. One practice, however, stands out for its especially imprudent allocation of limited resources: awarding pay raises to teachers simply for earning a master’s degree.
More than a decade of research has demonstrated that educators’ advanced degrees do not correlate with improved student achievement. Yet school systems around the country, continue to hand out hefty bonuses and “step” pay raises to teachers who complete graduate school courses.
Research from the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Education reports that this imbedded benefit costs American schools more than $8.6 billion per year. The study found that about half of all American teachers have at least a master’s degree, and that 90 percent of those degrees are from colleges of education, not in specific, more rigorous subjects such as math, biology, history or English literature. …
Nevada is one of 13 states that spends more than 2 percent of its education budget on master’s degree bonuses, according to the University of Washington study. At the Clark County School District, a teacher with a master’s degree makes between roughly $6,000 and $12,000 more per year than a teacher of equal experience with only a bachelor’s degree.
Besides teachers, the other beneficiaries of this pay structure are colleges of education. They make big bucks making sure teachers stay in school. But teachers emerge from these programs with enhanced knowledge of pedagogy, not the subjects they actually teach.
School districts can’t expect to keep their best talent, attract skilled professionals and improve student achievement if good teachers continue to earn less than bad ones. A pay structure that embraces seniority and credentialism and rejects on-the-job performance is a broken one.