Districts drop extra pay for master’s

Teachers with master’s degrees aren’t any more effective than their non-degreed colleagues, say researchers. Now North Carolina, Dallas and Houston are cutting extra pay for advanced degrees.

“Effectiveness is more based on results rather than any checklist of things,” said Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles, who implemented a pay-for-performance system in the district, as he did at his previous district in Colorado. “So years of service and the advance degrees are checklist-type things.”

Yet the backlash in North Carolina grew so intense that the state is now looking at reinstating the extra pay for those teaching classes related to the subject in which they have an advanced degree.

Teacher turnover is up sharply in the state’s largest school district, Wake County.

Teachers should be paid based on how hard their jobs are and how well they’re doing them, argues The New Teachers Project in Shortchanged: The Hidden Cost of Lockstep Teacher Pay

Effective teachers should be able to move quickly up the pay scale in the first five years and earn raises for strong classroom performance, the report recommends. In addition, compensation systems should reward “great teachers in high-need schools.”

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  1. More often, than not, a graduate degree is required to move into different positions. I have one, it’s required, along with current certifications to do the type of psycho-educational evaluations for special education.

    For a classroom teacher, unless you’re considering changing jobs, a Master’s stipend is not economically rewarding for a teacher. (Did anyone factor in the cost of a graduate degree?)

    You get it for other reasons, most notably, self fulfillment. Or to change jobs, like I did.

    I think whether a stipend is available or not, really doesn’t matter to the teachers.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      For a classroom teacher, unless you’re considering changing jobs, a Master’s stipend is not economically rewarding for a teacher. (Did anyone factor in the cost of a graduate degree?)

      Darren, over at rightontheleftcoast.blogspot.com is pursuing a masters degree largely for economic reasons: http://rightontheleftcoast.blogspot.com/2011/09/masters-degree.html
      Possibly, he is making a mistake, but the spreadsheet is pretty straightforward …

      • It may make economical sense in some districts. But in Texas, the stipend is typically 500-1000 per year.

        It would take a long time to break even, after paying for the courses.

        Now, in one sense, it makes sense. Here in Texas, we have AP courses. These require a Master’s to teach. And the student composition is incredible. But very few schools will allow you to teach all AP classes.

      • Yeah, every place I know of just says submit your credits. And you get paid for credits, not just for the master’s in most places. That’s the norm.

        There are some districts that require all coursework be towards a master’s, but even then you get paid for the coursework, whether or not you get the master’s.

        On top of that, most high school math teachers have a lot of credits past the BA just in order to get the credential. Very few high school teachers have ed degrees, which is the only time you’d start at the bottom of the scale.

        I disagree that a MA isn’t worth the money. Pay $10K/year for a year or so, and get $1000 more a year or a percentage increase (like it is in our district) and it pays off pretty quickly. I just never heard of a high school teacher being at the bottom of the pay scale.

    • It is somewhat unfair to penalize teachers who went to the expense of getting that Master’s, and will not now receive the extra pay that was promised.

      Meanwhile, districts pay BIG bucks for the National Board Certified Teachers – as much as $7500 a year (but more often $2-3k). Opinions vary as to the value of the certification. What is certain is that it is, unlike degrees, NOT transferable outside of the classroom.

      What not paying for the degrees means is that the teachers who want to move up to principalship or supervision will have to bear all of the costs, without payback, and will only re-coup the money if they get out of the classroom.

  2. On the other issue of teacher pay, I would argue that environment motivates teachers more than pay. After all, a $5000 stipend to move to another school, really is not a $5000 pay increase. You will lose 40% to federal taxes, and other with-holdings.

    I work in a large district, and we often get/lose teachers for reasons other than pay. Most notably, student composition, distance to work and school climate. If you love a subject, you would rather teach it, than spend much of your time on behavior management. A $300 month pay raise is not worth if for the increased stress.

    I believe the authors at the New Teachers Project are not looking deep enough to make the broad conclusions they are stating.

  3. Ruth Joy says:

    On the other hand, when the state requires 30 credit hours within five years, you may as well take a couple more classes and get a masters.

  4. If I were doing it *solely* for financial reasons, I’d go to National University for 10 months and get a “master’s in education with an emphasis on curriculum and instruction”–in other words, I’d jump through hoops for a year and get a useless degree that would give me a pay raise.

    Instead I’m taking one course per semester online through the University of Idaho’s Engineering Outreach program. 8 math classes and 2 education classes, which in 3 *more* years will result in a Master of Arts in Teaching Math. Some of what I’ve learned in my three prob/stats courses so far has already made me a better statistics teacher.

    My degree will cost me about $25000. If our pay scale stays similar to what it is now, I’ll recoup that cost within three years of earning the degree.