Teacher education vs. Student performance - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Teacher education vs. Student performance

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March 25, 2004

Albany -- The Mims case has raised new questions about whether post-graduate degrees and the accompanying bonuses produce positive results in the classroom. It's an ongoing debate with few solid answers.

A new study conducted by the University of Washington and the Urban Institute shows a thin link between teachers who have upper level degrees and student performance. The study points out less than three quarters of a point change in student test scores in classes where teachers had completed additional training or obtained degrees above a bachelors. It's theory many don't accept.

"I tend to disagree with that," says South Georgia teacher Gwen Phillips.

Phillips a teacher at Radium Springs Elementary, who has a masters degree, says the bonus is an incentive for her to earn her PHD. She believes there is a strong link between students' performance and the teachers' education.

"Child do not just sit and do paper and pencil work any more we have different learners we have auditory learners some of them have to put their hand on things," says Phillips.

But the evidence that directly links student performance to teacher education is inconclusive. One reason is that factors like poverty and home life play a strong role in how students learn.

Paying teachers more for furthering their education doesn't come cheap. This year state will pay almost seven million dollars with bigger within the next four year. Even without direct evidence, it's a price school officials say they're willing to pay.

"The things that they can share with their students is what we are paying for and result of their education and the additional education they have," says Ted Horton executive director of curriculum for Dougherty County.Schools.

Educators are taking a risk and putting a price tag on the education of the next generation.

The Georgia House of Representatives recently added a provision to a bill to expand the teacher education bonus program to include other members of a school's staff.

posted at 6:30PM by scott.hunter@walb.com