NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Experienced Teachers Don't Make A Difference

January 26, 2000

In the heavily unionized ranks of teachers, seniority means fatter paychecks. But a study from the Hudson Institute and the Education Intelligence Agency reveals that students having teachers with additional years of experience do not, for the most part, benefit from that additional expertise.

  • In Massachusetts, students in grades four and eight scored about the same on reading and math tests regardless of their teachers' years on the job.
  • Students in Texas and California did appear to do better under the tutelage of teachers with 11 to 24 years of experience -- but those gains stalled out among students taught by teachers with even more years in classrooms.
  • A majority of states, including Florida and Virginia, showed a subsequent decline in effectiveness for teachers with more than 25 years' experience.
  • In Georgia, inexperienced teachers performed better than their oldest colleagues.

Nor do advanced degrees seem to offer much improvement. In South Carolina and Wyoming, students tested worse on average if their teachers had masters' degrees.

Yet seniority and degrees are virtually the only things for which we increase teacher pay.

Source: Peter Brimelow, "Union Scale," Forbes, February 7, 2000.


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