Top teachers earn top pay...when they stop teaching

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Effective teachers, according to new research by Martin West and Matthew Chingos, stand the most to gain financially by leaving the classroom, particularly if they leave public education altogether. With each standard deviation increase in effectiveness, teachers earn 6 to 9 percent more than they would have if they had stayed teaching.

Ineffective teachers actually lose ground financially when they leave the classroom, suggesting that the same qualities that cause a teacher to be ineffective may cause an employee to be less effective.

Effective teachers do not leave teaching at higher rates than their less effective peers and those that leave tend to be slightly less effective on average than other effective teachers. They are also more likely to be male, Black or Hispanic. Comparing male and female teachers who left the classroom, men can earn 18 percent more outside of teaching, suggesting that salary is a top priority when looking for other jobs.