Does Research Matter in Education Policy, When We Can't Fix "Masters Bumps"?
Update, 6/16: Teacher Beat blogger Stephen Sawchuk notes that both Colorado’s own Harrison School District and now the Pittsburgh School District have fashioned pay plans that make master’s bumps “a thing of the past.”
It’s summertime. The Internet isn’t exactly brimming with exciting new developments in the world of education to write about. So instead I point you to a new blog post from Dr. Eric Hanushek at Education Next about the irrational policy of awarding teachers automatic pay increases for earning masters degrees:
What does this bonus do? It induces many teachers to want to have a master’s degree. (Over half of all teachers have an advanced degree now.) Getting a master’s degree is frequently something done concurrently with a full time teaching job, so the last thing these teachers want is a challenging academic program that requires real work. As a result, schools of education are willing to sell master’s degrees that require minimal effort. Master’s degrees become a very profitable product.
A profitable product that, as research has shown time and again, does absolutely nothing to benefit the learning of students. And as the Center on Reinventing Public Education showed in 2009, 2 percent of all K-12 operating expenditures here in Colorado and nationwide are spent on the inefficient “master’s bumps.”
Were you wondering if there might be money currently in the system to be channeled into more effective and productive purposes? If you’re seeking just one example, then look no further.
Hanushek concludes with a rhetorical question:
If we cannot act on things that are so well-known and well-documented, how can we hope to do things that are more difficult and controversial?
Can I get an Amen? Somebody out there?