2021's Best & Worst States for Teachers - AZEdNews
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2021’s Best & Worst States for Teachers


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  • Adam McCann   |   WalletHub

Screen Shot 2021 09 20 At 1.25.06 PM

Teaching can be a profoundly rewarding career, considering the critical role educators play in shaping young minds. But many teachers find themselves overworked and underpaid. Education jobs are among the lowest-paying occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree, and teacher salaries consistently fail to keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, the Every Student Succeeds Act demands growth in student performance. And this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to make teachers’ jobs even harder than usual.

Earlier in 2021, teachers in many schools across the U.S. had to provide online-only instruction to students, or a hybrid of online and in-personal learning. Because of the difficulties of switching to this system, a massive number of students experienced significant learning loss. While schools are reopening this fall, teachers still have to contend with new variants of the disease and rising case levels.

In some states, teachers are more fairly paid and better protected against the current pandemic than in others. Those states are less likely to face a revolving door of teacher turnover. To help America’s educators find the best opportunities and teaching environments, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 24 key indicators of teacher-friendliness. Our data set ranges from teachers’ income growth potential to the pupil-teacher ratio to whether the state has a digital learning plan.

Main Findings

Source: WalletHub

Best States for Teachers

Overall Rank StateTotal Score Opportunity & Competition Academic & Work Environment 
1New York60.8633
2Utah57.43113
3Washington55.41411
4Pennsylvania54.61514
5New Jersey54.53154
6Virginia53.8379
7Maryland52.76272
8Delaware52.46341
9Illinois51.88621
10Connecticut50.02296
11Massachusetts49.86305
12Georgia49.71728
13Florida49.192310
14North Dakota49.10327
15Indiana48.742017
16Kentucky48.531724
17Texas48.101626
18Minnesota47.882420
19California47.69250
20Mississippi47.131034
21Alabama47.07935
22Oregon45.401439
23West Virginia45.293518
24Kansas44.241937
25Idaho44.191841
26Iowa44.103622
27South Dakota43.812136
28Rhode Island43.254419
29Wyoming43.184023
30Oklahoma43.161248
31Wisconsin43.163329
32Nebraska42.894516
33North Carolina42.852538
34Alaska42.551149
34Ohio42.552832
36Michigan42.444127
37Colorado42.054325
38Tennessee41.963133
39Vermont41.494812
40Arkansas41.012246
41South Carolina40.972643
42New Mexico40.891351
43Louisiana39.704630
44Hawaii38.973742
45Missouri38.874240
46Nevada38.503944
47Montana38.054731
48Arizona37.323847
49Maine35.915015
50District of Columbia31.844945
51New Hampshire31.14518

Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that state, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.

Methodology

In order to determine the teacher-friendliest states in the U.S., WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across two key dimensions, “Opportunity & Competition” and “Academic & Work Environment.” Because competitive salaries and job security are integral to a well-balanced personal and professional life, we assigned a heavier weight to the first category.

We evaluated the two dimensions using 24 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for living and working as a teacher.

Finally, we determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the states.

Opportunity & Competition – Total Points: 70

  • Average Starting Salary for Teachers: Double Weight (~10.77 Points)
    Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living. State Cost of Living Index was estimated by averaging the indices of participating cities and metropolitan areas in that state.
  • Average Salary for Teachers: Full Weight (~5.38 Points)
    Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living. State Cost of Living Index was estimated by averaging the indices of participating cities and metropolitan areas in that state.
  • Teachers’ Income Growth Potential: Full Weight (~5.38 Points)
  • 10-Year Change in Teacher Salaries: Full Weight (~5.38 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the change in current dollars for teacher salaries between the 2011–2012 and the 2020–2021 academic years.
  • Average Teacher Pension: Full Weight (~5.38 Points)
    Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living. State Cost of Living Index was estimated by averaging the indices of participating cities and metropolitan areas in that state.
  • Share of New Teachers with Inadequate Pensions: Full Weight (~5.38 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the share of new teachers who will not break even on their pensions. In other words, the amount of their future pension benefits will be less than the contributions they made to the state pension plan during their career.
  • Projected Teacher Competition in Year 2028: Full Weight (~5.38 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the projected number of teachers per 1,000 students by year 2028.
  • Public-School Enrollment Growth: Full Weight (~5.38 Points)
    Note: “Growth” was measured by comparing public-school enrollment in fall 2019 versus fall 2020.
  • Length of Time Before Tenure Kicks in: Double Weight (~10.77 Points)
  • Teacher Tenure Protections: Full Weight (~5.38 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the strength of the state law, if any, protecting teachers’ tenure.
  • Teacher Preparation Program Completion: Full Weight (~5.38 Points)
    A teacher preparation program is designed to prepare both undergraduate and graduate students to become licensed teachers. Programs can offer students specialized coursework in the grade level and subjects they are interested in teaching. The teacher preparation program also includes a hands-on student teaching experience, which is required in most states for licensing. Typical coursework covers:
    • Issues in education
    • Child or adolescent development
    • Student assessment
    • Early childhood methods
    • Language and literacy
    • Educational psychology

Academic & Work Environment – Total Points: 30

  • Existence of Digital Learning Plan: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of state comprehensive digital learning strategies for schools deploying technology, a series of trainings for teachers, and instructional resources for building remote lesson plans.
  • State Statute on Out-of-School Access to Instructional Materials: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers state statute on accessibility of digital content and instructional materials outside of the classroom.
  • State Guidance on Accessible Technologies: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence of absence of state accessibility assurance to acceptable technologies for providing instructional content.
  • Quality of School System: Triple Weight (~6.67 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “States with the Best & Worst School Systems” ranking.
  • Pupil-Teacher Ratio: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
  • Public-School Spending per Student: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the annual state and local expenditures for K–12 public schools per capita.
  • Presence of Annual Teacher-Evaluation Requirement: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of an annual evaluation requirement policy for all teachers in the state.
  • Presence of Teacher-Effectiveness Requirement: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of state implemented policies for “objective student growth as part of teacher evaluation system,” as described by the National Council on Teacher Quality.
  • Projected Share of Teacher Turnover: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the share of teachers “planning to leave the teaching profession as soon as possible or as soon as a more desirable job opportunity arises,” according to the Learning Policy Institute.
  • Share of Teachers Who Feel Supported by Their Administrator: Full Weight (~2.22 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the share of teachers who strongly agree that their school administration’s behavior toward the staff is supportive and encouraging. LPI analysis of Public School Teacher File, 2016, from the Schools and Staffing Survey, National Center for Education Statistics.
  • Average Commute Time: Half Weight (~1.11 Points)
  • Prevalence of Childhood Disadvantage: Half Weight (~1.11 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “States with the Most Underprivileged Children” ranking.
  • Working Mom-Friendliness: Half Weight (~1.11 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst States for Working Moms” ranking.

 
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, National Education Association, National Center for Education Statistics, Council for Community and Economic Research, TeacherPensions.org, ProCon.org, National Council on Teacher Quality, Projections Central – State Occupational Projections, Learning Policy Institute, Education Commission of the States, State Educational Technology Directors Association and WalletHub research.