How much are teachers really paid?
MacIver Institute – Nick Novak – 9/3/2014
The joint report looks at median elementary school teacher pay, not including fringe benefits, in 60 selected metropolitan areas. Cities were selected on the basis of availability of data, their population and for geographic balance.
Comparing nominal teachers' salaries provides a basic look into educator pay in the United States, but for a true comparison, salaries must be adjusted for the cost of living in each metro area. When adjusted for cost of living, Los Angeles drops from second highest ($74,280 - nominal) to 17th highest ($56,963 - adjusted). New York City drops even further, from third highest ($73,000) to 59th out of 60 ($33,152).
Teachers in Milwaukee do not move from the top spot, however. When adjusted for cost of living, teacher pay drops slightly from $74,540 to $73,078.
While this study looks at median teacher pay, it also questions how well students perform in these cities. Do the metro areas with the highest adjusted teacher pay have students performing at the highest level? The answer is a resounding no.
In fact, of the 19 metro areas that have data available for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) - also known as the Nation's Report Card - the four cities with the worst test scores are the four cities with the highest paid teachers (Detroit, MI; Cleveland, OH; Fresno, CA and Milwaukee, WI).
It is clear that Milwaukee has more work to do when it comes to educational performance. According to the latest statewide standardized testing, only 24.1 percent of fourth-grade students are proficient in math and only 16.8 percent of fourth-grade students are proficient in reading. Both are about half of the statewide average.
While teacher pay varies greatly across the country, Milwaukee makes it clear that higher pay does not always translate into higher test scores. Moving forward, policy makers may need to look to other educational reforms if they intend on better preparing students for success.
Full report – 13-page PDF
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