A lot of people don’t realize that the vast majority of K-12 public school educators have at least a master’s degree. Back in 2010, some states such as Ohio and Massachusetts decided that brand-new K-12 teachers didn’t need to have a master’s degree right when they start teaching but had to complete a master’s degree within five years of starting their teaching career. This was due to a drastic shortage of teachers to fill positions.
Now, Kentucky is causing ripples in the education community by dropping the master’s degree requirement for teachers in their public school systems. On Monday, August 20, the state Education Professional Standards Board voted in favor of dropping the requirement, citing the lack of empirical evidence that an advanced degree increases an educator’s effectiveness.
Many in the field point out that an advanced degree in education is typically where an educator will learn concrete techniques for leading and assessing a classroom, not just the ins and outs of their specific field. College professors have long wondered if student dissatisfaction with some professors has been due to a lack of formal education training in academia. They’re hesitant to let the same fate fall on public K-12 schools.
In the past, it’s been highly recommended for teachers across disciplines, grade levels, and school districts to invest in advanced degrees. Educators believed that advanced education not only enriches the educator, but it also enriches the classroom and community. All states require continued education for teachers to remain certified, not necessarily in the form of a master’s degree; but many educators went that route out of prestige and interest.
Private schools don’t fall under state requirements like public school teachers do, but even so, at least 60-80% of private school teachers have an advanced degree. There’s a certain amount of prestige and respect attached to advanced degrees, and the education system seems to strongly value them overall.
Parents also value their children’s educators having advanced degrees. There have been plenty of complaints from parents and politicians alike about this new development. Some are claiming the move shows a lack of care on the part of the Education Board, or a ploy to justify paying teachers lower salaries.
Because advanced degrees were generally incentivized by school systems through pay increases and promotions, Kentucky educators are hoping that this won’t change in the coming months.