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Masters-qualified teachers are no guarantee of a successful schools system

DONALD Macdonald states that the EIS is correct in being concerned that "teachers gaining Masters qualifications should be financially rewarded" (Letters, November 8).

I had wrongly assumed that the world of assuring quality in Scottish education had collectively moved on from this input model and the focus in our schools should be on performance output – that is, pupil success and ways to obtain it.

The current issue of the Scottish Government proposing that effective teachers should have a post-graduate Masters qualification is based on a myth which must be discredited. The matter of a link between pupil performance and the number of letters after the names of their teachers has been the basis of generational misconceptions on theory versus practice. This assumption has fuelled the pompous Scottish obsession of aligning academic qualifications with the qualities required in practice to meet pupil learning needs –usually without displaying any correlating evidence.

All of the research papers I have considered on this issue frequently contradict each other depending on the specifics of the analysis. However, research done in Los Angeles public schools in 2009 published by the respected RAND organisation has clear and unambiguous findings. The report, What teacher characteristics affect student achievement, found that: "Teacher effectiveness is typically measured by traditional teacher qualification standards, such as experience, education, and scores on licensure examinations. RAND researchers found no evidence that these standards have a substantial effect on student achievement in Los Angeles public elementary, middle and high schools. Alternative measures of teacher qualifications and different kinds of reward systems might be more effective at improving teacher quality."

I suggest that before embarking on the task of encouraging serving teachers to gain a Masters degree, regardless of the issue of extra pay, those behind the proposal should present teachers and parents with definite proof that this paper chase will be worth the effort.

Bill Brown,

46 Breadie Drive,


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