The logic is correct, but the premise couldn't be well...er...ummmmmm...more wrong! Why? It presumes that teachers who earn a Master's degree will remain in the classroom long enough to justify the expense to the school district.
First of all, empirical research has demonstrated repeatedly that teachers who've earned a Master's degree in Education are no more effective than teachers who haven't. However, teachers who've earned a Master's degree in the subject area they teach appear to be more effective than those who don't. Yet, many school districts across the United States continue to pay teachers higher salaries based upon earning a Master's degree, most of being earned in Education.
So, rather than argue about the value of the degree--a subject area specialty returning more on investment (ROI) than an Education degree--is the cost to a school district of a teacher earning any Master's degree going to deliver ROI?
Depending upon the teacher, research conducted by Matthew Chingos indicates the following:
- Of 112 major American school districts, 96% pay teachers with a Master's degree more than teachers with only a bachelor's degree.
- This policy results in an average $3.2k+ salary difference in the first year of teaching and up to $8.4k+ at the high end of the salary schedule.
- The impact of the pay bump varies from district to district. For example, in 3 Maryland school districts, teachers can receive a pay bump of $30k+ for possessing a Master's degree.
- ~50% of American teachers had earned a Master's degree in the 2011-2012 school year.
Again, is the sometimes $50k expense to a school district for a teacher to attain a Master's degree going to deliver ROI?
Chingos compared school district salary information with the cost of a Master's degree near each district studied. The data indicate that a teacher in the average school district would have to remain in his teaching position for 9 years, simply to break even on the tuition cost of the degree. So, for those teachers who plan to spend less than 10 years in teaching, a Master's degree is probably a waste of money.
With so many teachers not remaining in the classroom sufficiently long enough to justify the expense, one state--North Carolina--has concluded that a Master's degree doesn't sufficiently improve a teacher's effectiveness to justify the expense and began doing away with the pay bump in 2013.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Matthew M. Chingos' research, click on the following link:
"Who Profits from the Master's Degree Pay Bump for Teachers?"