Market forces and teacher (mis)-education


From Dan Mitchell: “In a system governed by market forces, teacher pay would be based on how well students learn, not how many superfluous degrees teachers accumulate:”

…scores of studies show no ties between graduate studies and teacher effectiveness. Even among researchers who see some value in some master’s programs, many urge dramatic reforms and an end to automatic stipends. “If we pay for credentials, teachers have an incentive to seek and schools have an incentive to provide easy credentials,” said Arthur Levine, a researcher who once headed Columbia University’s Teachers College. “If, on the other hand, we only pay for performance, teachers have an incentive to seek and schools have an incentive to provide excellent training.” …A roundup published in 2003 by The Economic Journal, a publication of the international Royal Economic Society, unearthed 170 relevant studies. Of those, 15 concluded that master’s programs helped teachers, nine found they hurt them, and 146 found no effect. One of the largest such studies began a decade ago, when the Texas Education Agency and the University of Texas at Dallas began offering researchers continuing access to millions of student records. That effort, a part of the Texas Schools Project, has found no correlation between master’s degrees and student achievement. “They’re worthless. Case closed. Next question,” said Eric Hanushek, a senior project researcher who also works at Stanford University. …school districts have long paid premiums for teachers with master’s degrees. And the premiums have led to a large increase in the share of American teachers with the degrees, from 26 percent in 1960 to 56 percent in 1995. In much of the nation, salary premiums for master’s degrees exceed $5,000 a year… that money could make a tangible impact elsewhere, buying student laptops, tutoring sessions, field trips or additional courses. …”America has 3.2 million teachers who together make up the nation’s most powerful political lobby, and more than half of them hold master’s degrees. They’ll fight for that money,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based nonprofit that funds and reviews education research. “The universities will fight, too,” she said. “Master’s programs are cash cows. Schools charge thousands a year in tuition for programs that cost little to run. Ever wonder why ed schools don’t publicize this research?”

Dallas Morning News


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