Efficacy of Teacher Master’s Programs: The Need for Research

From Learning First Alliance
by Charlotte Williams

Over the past several years, many in the education industry have debated the significance of master’s degrees for teachers, and often also whether this higher degree warrants more pay. Many blogs have commented on this issue, including Education Week blogs, university blogs, and newspaper blogs.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), a member of the Learning First Alliance, is also contributing to the conversation. Their website currently highlights the controversial issue of the relationship between teacher master’s degrees and student classroom success.

They note recent comments by Bill Gates and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that little current evidence suggests a positive correlation between the two, and that therefore we should question the efficacy of master’s degrees and the validity of rewarding them monetarily. Two organizations – the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education and the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children – have responded by writing letters to these two influential public figures, pointing out an IES- supported 2010 study on special education teachers in Florida that found a positive correlation between advanced degrees and student improvement, especially in math.

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