Eliminating the Master’s Bump for Teachers
Here’s one for you. The dean of a major college of education says “it is misguided to pay teachers more for earning a master’s degree.” Look up the antonym to “self-interest” and it will reference this statement.
In a commentary, “The Master’s Pay Bump,” Education Week, December 2, 2009, Patricia Wasley, dean of the University of Washington’s College Education in Seattle, and Marguerite Roza, a research associate professor suggest exactly that.
The statement is based upon the publication in July 2009 of “Separation of Degrees: State-By-State Analysis of Teacher Compensation for Master’s Degrees.” The report uses research conducted at the Center for the Reinvention of Public Education.
In a nutshell, Patricia and Marguerite suggest if higher teacher salaries are automatically linked to advanced degrees, why wouldn’t many teachers select the most expedient and cheapest degree?
That’s exactly what my daughter‘s friend did, a delightful woman who started teaching five years ago—someone I respect as an excellent mathematics teacher. But in talking with her, I can comfortably say that she picked the easiest path to earn her master’s degree and learned very little about more productive teaching methods leading to higher student achievement. She got her “master’s pay bump” quickly but wasted her time and money on a degree that had no meaning. HOW SAD!
Patricia and Marguerite are not recommending eliminating graduate work for teachers. Rather, they recommend that colleges of education must do a better job aligning graduate work to help teachers increase student achievement, and that teacher pay should be linked to improved student outcomes.
Granted, we face challenges in creating a rational way to link teacher pay to improve student outcomes, but we have more tools now than we’ve had in the past, and several centers including the National Center for Performance Incentives at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University are doing important research on the issue.
I applaud Patricia and Marguerite, but I’m curious. Is this too much accountability for other colleges of education?