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Teacher Pay & Continued Education
posted by: Alix | November 15, 2010, 04:44 PM   

The debate over teacher pay continues as education reformers and policy makers share ideas about performance pay and value-added compensation scales. One aspect that has remained largely constant is pay increases for teachers who earn additional course credits or hold advanced degrees. Sometimes known as "lane" increases or the "master's degree bump", these increases are some of the costliest to schools systems and are raising questions on whether or not these degrees are in fact helping student learning.

Paul B. Ash, the superintendent of schools in Lexington, Massachusetts, claims, "You have to pay teachers what they're worth ... but the issue for me is whether that's the best way to spend money to increase teacher capacity to increase learning. Is it? I don't think so."

Recently, a study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education found that states spend millions of dollars paying teachers for extra credentials, even in fields like education or leadership that research shows does not equate to improved student learning.

Due to the cost and recent doubts about this spending, stakeholders are weighing in on whether this issue raises a larger question about professional development for educators. Should those costs be considered and budgeted for as a part of professional development, or be reserved for a debate about teacher pay in general?

Some argue that teachers should be given pay increases for attending professional development sessions. Others say that teachers should only be compensated for continued education in a different discipline, so that they would be truly advancing their knowledge base.

According to the AAE member survey, member educators support certain types of differentiated and performance pay plans. Interestingly, 47% of survey respondents said level of education should be a factor in determining teacher pay.

In the private sector, for example, do all professionals see a salary bump for advanced degrees? It can be a mixed bag in certain industries. Questions remain, and changing the system would be a large undertaking.

"It's hard in every way—it's intellectually hard, it's politically hard, it requires an enormous amount of persistence," Ash said about changing the tradition of salary increases for advanced degrees. "You're trying to overcome 80 years of history... and in the meantime, you're paying for those courses forever."

What do you think about this system of increases? Should it be reformed?
Comment below.

Comments (3)Add Comment
written by Kim Moreno, November 20, 2010

I think pay for advanced degrees does need to be looked at. There are many teachers who cannot afford to go back to pay for a masters program, or whose family obligations don't allow the time committment to take classes and still do a great job teaching. That doesn't mean they are less capable teachers. In my experience, some of the best teachers I have worked with had their BA and pursued additional research on their own in order to advance the student populations in their own classrooms in any given year. The innovative strategies these teachers are using to solve problems should be worth compensating when it can be shown that it benefits students. On the flip side, I have worked with teachers with advanced degrees who weren't particularly effective in reaching their students.
Value of a teacher
written by D Fulton, Columbia, SC, November 15, 2010

Most teachers work so hard and they are so undervalued. For every banker, politician, and president, there was a teacher who motivated/inspired/challenged him or her. Good teachers are worth every penny and more. Advance education achieved by a teacher is positive role modeling.
written by Martha Elena Lopez via Facebook , November 15, 2010

It is of great merit to hold a postgraduate degree in the educational field. For this reason, I am of the opinion that it should be rewarded with stipends and/or extra pay. Many teachers that do pursue a higher degree foresee an administrative position in their future, but there are many teachers who do so because they want to excel in what they do - teach. These teachers deserve the extra pay.

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