Special Report
Teaching Profession

Questions Arise Over Teacher-Credential Expenses

By Stephen Sawchuk — November 10, 2010 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

They are politically tough to eliminate, not correlated with teacher effectiveness outside the math and science fields, and generally unaligned with districts’ priorities for professional development.

Nevertheless, salary differentials for teachers who earn additional course credits or hold advanced degrees—otherwise known as “lane” increases or the “master’s degree bump”—are among the costliest aspects of teacher development.

“It is so depressing, I have to say,” Paul B. Ash, the superintendent of the 6,300-student Lexington, Mass., school system, said of the cost. “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.”

Professional Development:
Sorting Through the Jumble to Achieve Success
Professional Development for Teachers at Crossroads
Proof Lacking on Success of Staff Development
Mass. District Strives for Teacher ‘Learning System’
Mich. District Adds Accountability to Staff Training
Staff-Development Providers Eye New Opportunities
Full Cost of Professional Development Hidden
Questions Arise Over Teacher-Credential Expenses
Experts Search for Best Content to Train Teachers
Texas District Targets Teachers for ELL Training
Web Extras
Interactive: Teacher Voices View video profiles of teachers discussing professional development.
Digital Edition View the interactive PDF version of this report.
Resources
Teacher PD Sourcebook Directory

An analysis released by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, located at the University of Washington, in Bothell, found that states spend millions of dollars paying teachers for earning extra credentials, even in fields like education or leadership that research does not associate with improved student learning.

As professional-development spending comes under the spotlight, a conceptual challenge awaits: Should those costs be considered and budgeted as part of spending on teacher professional development, or be reserved for a larger conversation on teacher pay?

Karen Hawley Miles, the president of Education Resource Strategies, a nonprofit organization that conducts analyses of district spending patterns, argues that such costs should be included in reviews of district spending on professional development, since they represent an investment in teachers’ knowledge and skills. In Philadelphia, her Newton, Mass.-based group found, the increments made up nearly 40 percent of total dollars invested in teacher training in 2007-08, outpacing even the amount spent on teacher coaching and in-service workshops.

Other finance experts aren’t convinced those costs should be budgeted as professional development. Allan R. Odden, a professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, points out that private industries often compensate their employees more for earning degrees like M.B.A.s and for advanced certification.

Multimedia: Teacher Voices

BRIC ARCHIVE

These mini-profiles—including video interviews—are meant to provide insight, but not to serve as representative examples of the districts in which they teach or programs in question. Their diverse experiences highlight the challenges districts face in providing high-quality training matched to each teacher’s needs.

View Teacher Profiles >>>

“No private-sector company would consider increased salary for knowledge and skills in their training budget; that would be in their salary budget,” he argued. A more productive goal for districts would be to revamp the entire pay schedule, rather than tinker with just lane increases, Mr. Odden added.

Despite a resurgence of interest in alternative-pay plans, most districts have only gone so far as to offer bonuses on top of the salary schedule. Just a few have ever attempted to put in totally new compensation systems.

That’s the primary reason that Mr. Ash, in Massachusetts, hasn’t attempted to tackle the issue.

“It’s hard in every way—it’s intellectually hard, it’s politically hard, it requires an enormous amount of persistence,” he said about changing the tradition of lane salary boosts.

See Also

“You’re trying to overcome 80 years of history, … and in the meantime, you’re paying for those courses forever.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as Questions Arise on Credentials

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers’ Careers Go Through Phases. They Need Support in Each
Teachers experience a dip in job satisfaction a few years into their careers.
5 min read
Vector illustration of a female teacher at her desk with her head in her hands. There are papers, stacked notebooks, and a pen on the desk and a very light photo of a blurred school hallway with bustling students walking by in the background.
iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Download Downloadable: 5 Ways Principals Can Help With Teacher Burnout
This downloadable gives school leaders and teachers various ways to spot and treat teacher burnout.
1 min read
Silhouette of a woman with an icon of battery with low charge and icons such as a scribble line, dollar sign and lightning bolt floating around the blue background.
Canva
Teaching Profession Massages, Mammograms, and Dental Care: How One School Saves Teachers' Time
This Atlanta school offers unique onsite benefits to teachers to help them reduce stress.
3 min read
Employees learn more about health and wellness options during a mini benefits fair put on by The Lovett School in Atlanta on May 8, 2024.
Employees at the Lovett School in Atlanta meet with health benefits representatives during a mini benefits fair on May 8, 2024.
Erin Sintos for Education Week
Teaching Profession Opinion How Two Teachers Helped Me Weave a Dream
A journalist and debut book author dedicates her novel to two of her high school English teachers.
Anne Shaw Heinrich
3 min read
Image of nurturing the craft of writing.
Francis Sheehan for Education Week with N. Kurbatova / iStock / Getty