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Published: August 1, 2011

Master teacher

A formal title developed in the 1950s to differentiate and reward teachers who have superior classroom skills and who have also made outstanding contributions to their school. The designation was developed along with career ladders, which established merit systems with automatic salary increases and appropriate titles to reward exceptionally skilled teachers. Although designed to attract and keep better skilled teachers in education, the master teacher designation and the merit system it represents have been the target of much criticism by tenured teachers. Many of the latter believe seniority should be the basis of salary increments and resent some younger teachers, with less seniority, earning master teacher designations and passing more experienced teachers on the salary scale. The dispute is no different, however, from similar ones in other industries wrestling with the question of whether merit or seniority should determine employee pay.