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ERIC Number: ED535593
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jul
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
The Sheepskin Effect and Student Achievement: De-Emphasizing the Role of Master's Degrees in Teacher Compensation
Miller, Raegen; Roza, Marguerite
Center for American Progress
Beginning this year with its 2012 graduating class, the University of Notre Dame ended its practice of offering diplomas made of sheep's skin, a tradition that has all but disappeared except in some stubborn corners of academia. But the tendency of employers to pay premiums to workers holding certain diplomas is thriving. This tendency, dubbed the sheepskin effect, makes a labor market more efficient if those workers holding the sheepskin are indeed more productive than those without them. Most certainly, the U.S. teacher labor market could be more efficient. Although teachers with master's degrees generally earn additional salary or stipends--the so-called "master's bump"--they are no more effective, on average, than their counterparts without master's degrees. The Center for American Progress and the Center on Reinventing Public Education have previously pointed out the potential advantages of more complex teacher compensation systems, in which higher pay goes to teachers in shortage subject areas, to effective teachers who support novices or tackle the most challenging assignments, and to teachers with extraordinary instructional impact. This brief dissects the nation's sizeable investment in master's bumps as a means of highlighting policy obstacles to a more smartly differentiated compensation approach. The authors follow their recommendations with a look at some encouraging developments while at the same time deflating a canard currently misinforming reform debates. First, however, they re-examine conventional wisdom underlying the status quo in teacher compensation. An appendix is included. (Contains 3 tables and 34 endnotes.)
Center for American Progress. 1333 H Street NW 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-682-1611; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for American Progress
Identifiers - Location: Finland; United States