Education

A requirement that teachers obtain master’s degrees has been removed by Kentucky officials.

The state Education Professional Standards Board voted Monday to waive the condition for teachers to move from Rank III to Rank II. Teachers were required to earn Rank II through a board-approved master’s degree program in their first 10 years of teaching.

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

“EPSB’s waiver is a positive step for districts and teachers,” Lewis said in a statement. “While many teachers will continue to pursue Rank II with either a master’s degree or through a continuing education option, they will now be permitted to make the choice to do so and to pursue that advancement on their own personal and professional timelines.”

Lewis said 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.

The Kentucky Education Association is against the board’s decision.

“Kentucky is among a minority of states that require teachers to have advanced degrees,” KEA President Stephanie Winkler said in a statement. “Although obtaining a Master’s degree during the first five years of teaching is a significant investment, Kentucky teachers have always felt a sense of pride because all students in the Commonwealth are taught by highly qualified professionals. During a time when we are supposed to be encouraging students to think of themselves as college and career ready, even beginning in kindergarten, it seems counterintuitive that our certifying authority would publicly state that it sees no value in having teachers earn an advanced degree.”