by Michael Lowrey
John Locke Foundation Chairman John Hood has a column out this on paying teachers more if they have graduate degrees. John thinks it’s a bad idea. Here’s why:
For three years now, I’ve been defending the decision of the North Carolina General Assembly to end the longstanding practice of giving public-school teachers automatic pay boosts if they possess or obtain graduate degrees.
The irony has been striking. Critics have consistently argued that getting rid of the pay bumps reflected an anti-intellectual, anti-scientific mindset on the part of Republican lawmakers. But the intellectual case for paying teachers more for graduate degrees is nonexistent. One of the clearest, most replicated findings in the social science of education policy is that there is no meaningful relationship between graduate degrees and teacher effectiveness.
To put it more bluntly: those who continue to insist North Carolina should reinstate the pay bumps are either entirely ignorant about the subject or contemptuous of the very higher learning they claim to champion.
Since 1990, scholars have published more than 100 studies in academic journals that tested the relationship between teachers having graduate degrees and some measure of educational success, such as test-score gains or increases in graduation rates. In more than 80 percent of the studies, there was no statistically significant relationship. A few of the studies actually found a negative effect. Only 15 percent produced a positive association.
Just this year, two new working papers — not yet published in journals but already posted by reputable researchers working with North Carolina data — have confirmed the basic findings of prior studies while using innovative new designs. One of them was co-authored by Duke University professor Helen Ladd, a vociferous critic of the education policies adopted by Republicans in Raleigh.
You can read the rest of his column here.