A report recently issued by the Center for American Progress found that states are now paying some $14.8 billion for public school teachers to earn master’s degrees in education. A 2009 analysis by CAP indicated that states paid $8.6 billion for teachers to earn master’s degrees (in 2003-04).

According to an article by Stephen Sawchuk at Education Week:

Why the sudden boost in costs? It’s important to keep in mind that time period pretty much predates the recession, and represents a time during which districts were still adding teachers to the rolls. It’s likely that costs have fallen somewhat since then, as a result of layoffs and perhaps salary freezes.

It could also be reflective of a long-standing, but not often discussed, trend in teacher education. Since 1970, the number of bachelor’s degrees in education annually has dropped from 170,000 to about 100,000 in 2007-08. But the number of M.A.s granted in the field during this time period has done the exact reverse, rising from around 87,000 in 1970 to 175,000 in 2007-08, according to an analysis of federal data performed by C. Emily Feistritzer of the National Center for Alternative Certification.

There is, however, no evidence that master’s degrees in education improve student achievement or make people better teachers.

Because master’s degrees are tied to pay schedules, however, teachers (understandably) resist efforts to reform the system and offer compensation in other ways.

Read the report here.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer