Superintendents react to change in Master’s Degree requirement for Kentucky teachers

BOWLING GREEN, Kentucky (WBKO) — After the Kentucky Board of Education moved to eliminate the requirement that forced Kentucky teachers to obtain a Master’s Degree, educators across the state are sounding off.

The Kentucky Educators Association has already come out against the change, but two local superintendents told 13 News it could be a positive step in the right direction.

“I see it as this could really improve teaching in Kentucky,” said Gary Fields of the Bowling Green Independent School District.

Fields added that a Master’s Degree is not accomplishing the same thing it did 20 years ago.

“For many years, earning a Master’s degree as an educator provided you an opportunity to improve your teaching in the classroom,” he said. “I think what has happened over the years is it’s become more of a requirement of checking off a box.”

“It hasn’t impacted what they’re doing in the classroom,” he continued.

Warren County Superintendent Rob Clayton presented another positive of the situation, saying in a statement, “The Master’s requirement within the first 10 years of teaching, combined with rising tuition, was a significant financial burden on many of our youngest teachers.”

Clayton did add that the school system would still incentivize those teachers that pursued their Master’s.

Gary Fields said this change will allow school districts to find new ways to prepare teachers, whether through their own programs, or re-evaluating higher education preparation at Kentucky universities.

“I think if nothing else, this may just really cause universities to work even more closely with districts and say how can we reconnect like we did 20 years ago,” he said. “I think in a quick period of time you’re going to see these conversations happening.”

State Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis said there isn’t evidence suggesting teachers having master’s degrees leads to increased effectiveness.

He says teachers should be able to choose when it’s appropriate to pursue Master’s Degrees. Officials believe teachers will still seek to ascend the ranks because incentives remain.

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