There is much talk of teacher shortages around the nation, and the consensus is that at least some of the shortages are more acute in certain localities and for certain schools or subjects. One evident but not often cited explanation is the difference in relative salaries between districts and states, which explains part of why some districts lose much-needed talent to neighboring districts or states.
This appendix to NCTQ's Smart Money 2.0 report presents some of the differences between salary paths among districts within selected states.
In California, Corona-Norco Unified School District offers teachers with a bachelor's degree the largest lifetime earnings in the state. While their salaries grow for about seven years, the growth is only at an average rate of 0.7% annually over a 30-year career span. However, the combination of a starting salary that is about 30% higher than the national average, plus steep salary increases during those seven years allows teachers with a bachelor's degree to earn the state's highest salaries.
Santa Ana Unified School District offers teachers with a master's degree the highest lifetime earnings. These teachers receive a starting salary that is only 10% above the national average, but this salary grows at an average annual rate of 2.2% over a 30-year career span. This growth suggests that a teacher with a master's degree in this district can earn a salary above $75,000 for two thirds of her career.
Both of these districts pay their teachers salaries that are about 10 cents per dollar higher than comparable professionals receive in their localities.
The salary paths of teachers in the Georgia districts in our sample are very similar. Starting salaries are all within $3,000, average salary growth rates vary between 1.3% and 1.6% annually over a 30-year teaching career, and salaries grow during most or all of the teachers' careers (26-30 years). Atlanta Public Schools stands at the top of the state's lifetime earnings rankings both for teachers with a bachelor's or a master's degree, but also offers 4 cents less per dollar earned by comparable professionals in their locality. Overall, Georgia districts offer similarly competitive salaries, and, in all cases, the lifetime earnings' premium for a master's degree is around $200,000.
In Maryland, Baltimore City Public School System stands out with the highest lifetime earnings for teachers with a bachelor's or a master's degree. In the case of teachers with a bachelor's degree, this district offers almost a three-quarter million lifetime premium over other districts in the state of Maryland. This premium shrinks to an average of $200,000 for teachers with a master's degree. Teachers in the Baltimore City Public School System start their careers with a salary minimally above the national average, but this salary grows throughout their career at an annual average rate of 2.4%, a growth rate that is more than twice that of the other Maryland districts in our sample. Baltimore City's teachers earn over $75,000 for almost two thirds of their careers. This district also pays their teachers about 10 cents more per dollar than comparable professionals receive in the city.
In contrast, other Maryland districts in our sample offer beginning salaries that are below the national average and average annual growth rates between 0.5% and 1.2%, which doesn't allow a teacher with a bachelor's degree to reach $75,000 at any point in a 30-year career.
Like Georgia, all the North Carolina districts in our sample offer similar salary paths for teachers with a bachelor's or a master's degree. In all five NC districts in our sample, beginning salaries are within $2,000 of one another, and average annual salary growth rates range between 1.3% and 1.5%.
The major differences among the North Carolina districts is observed on the salary paths that include differentiated pay for performance and hard-to-staff subjects or schools. Cumberland County Schools stand out for offering the highest bonuses for high-performing teachers who teach in hard-to-staff subjects or schools, offering average annual salary growth rates of 2%, which allows these teachers to earn more than $75,000 for the last five years of a 30-year career.
Both Granite School District and Jordan School District offer teachers with a bachelor's degree the highest lifetime earnings in the state of Utah. Teachers in Jordan School District experience a higher average annual salary growth, at a rate of 1.7% throughout a 30-year career. Relatively speaking, however, Granite School District offers teachers salaries that are slightly higher than what comparable professionals receive outside the K-12 teaching industry (4 cents per dollar more).
That difference is more palpable when it comes to teachers with a master's degree. Granite School District stands at the top of lifetime earnings for those teachers. Conversely, even though teachers in Davis School District have slightly higher starting salaries, they experience a lower average annual salary growth rate throughout their careers, and therefore lifetime earnings in that district stand at the bottom of the states' rankings of the districts in our sample.
All of Utah's school districts offer their teachers salaries that are comparable to what other professionals outside the K-12 teaching industry receive.
In Virginia, Henrico County Public Schools stands out as the district that provides the highest lifetime earnings for teachers with a bachelor's degree, due to a combination of higher than average starting salaries and an annual average salary growth rate of 2% throughout a 30-year career span of a typical teacher.
When it comes to teachers with a master's degree, Fairfax County Public Schools stands at the top of the lifetime earnings ranking followed closely by Henrico County Public Schools. The main difference between these school districts is that the latter pays their teachers an average of 10 cents more per dollar than what comparable professionals outside the K-12 teaching industry receive, while the former pays on average 12 cents less per dollar than comparable professionals, due to the inherent demographics of the capital region, where Fairfax County is located.
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