Report: Teachers Earn Less Than Peers
By Pauline Vu, Staff Writer
In 40 states, public school teachers fail to make as much as workers in comparable professions, such as reporters and insurance underwriters, according to a new report by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center (EPE). Nationwide, teachers earn only 88 cents for every dollar paid to workers in equivalent jobs.
These findings were a new feature of the 12th annual Quality Counts report, published by trade newspaper Education Week, which is published by EPE. The report, released Wednesday (Jan. 9), looked at more than 150 indicators to grade states in six categories: teacher policies; standards, assessments and accountability; school funding; K - 12 achievement; school transition and alignment policies; and a child's chances for success in life.
Across these categories, a trio of Northeast states led the pack: Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. At the other end of the scale, the District of Columbia and five states barely avoided failing grades: Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada and Oregon.
The main focus of this year's report is states' teaching policies. States are ranked on factors such as how stringent their license requirements are, whether they provide mentoring programs for new teachers or incentives to teach in hard-to-staff subjects and schools, and working conditions such as class size and the level of school violence.
This year's report also includes a new analysis comparing teacher salaries to those of 16 jobs that require similar skill sets, such as museum curators, registered nurses and accountants. Teacher pay was found to be deficient in 40 states.
Christopher B. Swanson, director of the EPE Research Center, said studies have shown that teaching quality matters more than anything else in a child's education, and there's some truth to the belief that the best and brightest aren't entering the profession because of low pay.
"A college student just graduating might think, 'Do I teach chemistry for $35,000, or do I go on to become a chemist in the private industry for $70,000 or $80,000?'" he said after a press conference unveiling the report. "Teaching is a noble profession. College students may want to make a difference, but at the same time, we all have to pay our bills."
The 10 states with higher teacher salaries are - in order of those that meet the pay-parity line to those that surpass it - California, New York, Ohio, Arkansas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Montana and Rhode Island. North Carolina had the lowest comparable teacher pay, with just 78.8 cents to every dollar earned by other professions.
Overall, however, Southern states ranked highest for their teaching policies, with South Carolina topping the list, followed by Arkansas, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. Most of these states distinguished themselves by having teacher evaluations tied to student achievement, encouraging more professional development, and offering incentives to principals to work in hard-to-staff schools.
The report's second chance-for-success index, which Ed Week debuted last year, rates a child's likelihood of succeeding in life depending on which state he or she is born in. Some of the index's factors include the state's average parental level of education, employment and English-speaking ability. Last year, Virginia took the top spot, but this year fell to 8 th place, relinquishing the crown to Massachusetts. Children in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont also have good chances of success in life, according to the findings.
Mississippi ranked lowest on this scale, followed by Louisiana and New Mexico, which last year had the dubious distinction of being the state where a child was most likely to not succeed.
The category the states ranked poorest in is K-12 achievement, which is based largely on states' performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a biennial test taken by a cross-section of students in every state, as well as graduation rates and Advanced Placement test scores. Massachusetts led the pack, while Mississippi was the chief laggard.
Quality Counts was partially funded by the Pew Center on the States, which, like Stateline.org , receives funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts.