Friday, July 24, 2009

Liberal think tank: Bump the master's bump

According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, Oklahoma spends more than $28 million per year "in a manner that is not even suspected of promoting higher levels of student achievement."
Teacher salaries increase each year with longevity and graduate credits, making them destined to escalate, and yet they have little link to student achievement.

Decoupling salary from experience is a tall order, but forward progress on school reform requires school districts to revamp their spending habits somehow. One habit related to experienced-based salary is the practice of paying a teacher with a master's degree more than an otherwise identical teacher with only a bachelor's degree. The long-cherished "master's bump" makes little sense from a strategic point of view.

On average, master's degrees in education bear no relation to student achievement. Master's degrees in math and science have been linked to improved student achievement in those subjects, but 90 percent of teachers' master's degrees are in education programs -- a notoriously unfocused and process-dominated course of study. Because of the financial rewards associated with getting this degree, the education master's experienced the highest growth rate of all master's degrees between 1997 and 2007.

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