Saturday, November 20, 2010

Should I Get A Masters Degree?

If so, it should probably be sooner rather than later, as I don't see school districts taking away money they've been paying people for years--but they might not pay it to new people:

Every year, American schools pay more than $8.6 billion in bonuses to teachers with master's degrees, even though the idea that a higher degree makes a teacher more effective has been mostly debunked.

Despite more than a decade of research showing the money has little impact on student achievement, state lawmakers and other officials have been reluctant to tackle this popular way for teachers to earn more money.

That could soon change, as local school districts around the country grapple with shrinking budgets.

Not having a masters degree, I make less than the average pay for all California teachers and less than the average pay for teachers in my district.


Rhymes With Right said...

Personally, I think the approach to bonus pay for a masters Degree should be very simple. If it is a content degree related to your teaching field, you get a bonus; if not, you don't. That means my MS in Political Science gets me a stipend as a Social Studies teacher, but the MA in Educational Leadership gets the Art teacher down the hall nothing but a pat on the head, and the MDiv that the English teacher has from his days as the youth pastor at a small local congregation also gets him nothing.

maxutils said...

The problem isn't that they pay for MAs; the problem is that they pay for worthless, mail order, non subject matter-specific MAs. You can't tell me the fact that I have a MA in economics does not help when I teach AP economics, or, for that matter, regular. Or, even math. I would wager though, that the majority of MAs in our district are in'education' and that the majority of those were earned without attending a real Master's curriculum. You can't fault teachers for taking advantage of this loop hole, but you can blame the district for providing it.

gbradley said...

My sister teaches Kindergarten, and she got her Masters degree a while back. I know that her pay increased as a result.
Of course I am proud of her and I think that it is a great accomplishment.
I still think that it is kind of ridiculous that the School districts pays her more than a co teacher without a higher degree. It's not like she's teaching Calculus to 5 year olds.
But that's the way it is.

Get the degree if you really want it. Extra money is always handy. If your studies take too much time away from your family, it may not be worth it.

Anonymous said...

If you get one, get a real one, not some insubstantial fluff edu-masters.

It will be some work, but judging from your blog, which I have read for some years, you can certainly do it.

My advice would be to avoid comprehensive exams (a.k.a. "comps") if possible. A thesis is probably more work, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. You cram your brains out for comps, and immediately begin to forget as soon as the exam is over. One of my comps was in topology, and my topology notes from back in the day read like Chinese to me now. You do need to find the right reader for a thesis.

Too, I believe you can make the case for deducting the tuition on your tax return. The IRS says that tuition is deductible under many different circumstances.

mmazenko said...

Master's degrees in content areas - English Language and Literature, Biology, American, European, & World History, Mathematics - are certainly going to inform teachers in a much more meaningful way than one in Education or Administration or IT, or any of a number of other nonsense degrees. The College of Education on most university campuses are mostly to blame - that and teaching associations - and don't even get me started on the University of Phoenix. For years, I have been annoyed and dismayed by colleagues who got the Master's in Education "just for the pay raise," and they are the worst in complaining about what a waste of time and money it was.

Scholarship is what truly guides a growth in education, and a program that lacks one is destined to be mediocre. To start with, the lack of a Master's Thesis, or the substitution of a "shorter" assignment of "three long papers" or a few "projects" is anathema to intellectual growth. If states want to clean up the system - and their payrolls - they ought to start with the Master's in Education.

Too many high school teachers have a Bachelor's in Secondary Ed - with a focus on content ... and then they get a teaching Master's as well. These teachers have so little content knowledge it's almost negligible.

Darren said...

The program I've found that I like the best (ie, cost is almost reasonable and the program doesn't seem like educrap to me) is an online program from the University of Idaho--a masters in teaching math. Over half of the courses are math, the other half are about teaching specifically math. It's offered through their Engineering Outreach Program, and I don't get the impression that the School of Education got a lot of input in the program!

Anonymous said...

I got mine about the time I hit the non-Masters bottleneck on the pay scale. That was about 8 years into the career.

Prior to that, I waffled on the "I won't stoop to collecting an Ed. Masters" issue. But with 8 years in, I realized that I worked much harder than my higher-paid colleagues, and that the hard work and high efficacy were not valued on the pay scale.

I work the job in the manner I see fit. Above and beyond is the norm for me. Nobody can make me do what I do for my students; I do it because I deem that it should be done.

I slogged through the MSIL (Master of Science in Instructional Leadership) and earned a perfect score on my thesis (1000/1000) despite intentionally violating some of the instructor's guidelines.

The point was to bleed the district for every penny I could. They're getting more than their money's worth with me. To my mind, they'll never pay me what I'm worth, so I might as well let them pay all they can. And the sooner I got there, the better (think area under the curve).

For the past several years, I've been paid the top teacher salary available. Alas, no more steps or columns are available for advancement. Pity me.

PeggyU said...

Darren - I checked out online masters programs online as well a while back. Most of them were masters in mathematics teaching, but there were a couple that caught my attention as well - one through the University of Washington, a masters in applied mathematics, was the most interesting to me. There was also another from a university in Texas (I can't remember which one now, but I could look back and find it) that offered a masters degree with a heavy emphasis on statistics.

Darren said...

Both sound interesting. University of Colorado had a masters in statistics as well.

PeggyU said...

Here you go. :)

The other one that looked interesting to me was offered by Texas A & M. I followed the link from this site.