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Low Teacher Salaries 101

How we got here, why it matters, and how school systems and states can compensate teachers fairly and strategically

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of 12:15pm on 6/19/18, we have updated this report to reflect updated and corrected analyses. If you downloaded the full paper or the Executive Summary between Wed 6/13/18 and this time, we ask that you please download the full report again and only refer to the one marked "Updated".

We have corrected the analyses of the gap between teacher salaries and the living wage to reflect a better understanding of the MIT living wage calculator. We have also updated data from the 2015-2016 school year to the 2016-2017 school year, to allow anyone to compare our calculations with the data that is currently available on MIT's site. A full explanation of our methodology is available in the Technical Appendx provided at the end of the report.

 Following decades of steady growth in per-pupil spending, the recession of 2008 marked a watershed event: in more than 30 U.S. states, inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending decreased. This may seem like a momentary blip, yet a deeper analysis reveals why some states should be concerned about the current level of K-12 per-pupil spending - and its effect on teacher salaries, the teacher labor market, and student success. Teacher walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Colorado shine a light on this long-simmering issue.

To promote excellence and equity for all students, districts and states need to consider both how much they invest in education alongside how well those resources are used.

This paper takes a state-by-state look at education spending levels, teacher salaries, and how salary levels correlate with turnover, staffing shortages, and other issues. We then offer recommendations for how to compensate and support teachers strategically. 

Download the updated paper (PDF)


Low Teacher Salaries 101
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