New dashboard equips SREB states with data to improve pay, support for teachers

News SREB News Release

As state leaders prepare for the 2021 legislative sessions, a new teacher-compensation dashboard from the nonpartisan Southern Regional Education Board provides policymakers and educators with a trove of information on 16 states’ pay and benefits for teachers.

A click of the map on the interactive dashboard for the first time brings together complete data on teacher salaries, health insurance costs, retirement plans and the resulting take-home pay for teachers in SREB states.

“This first-of-its-kind data dashboard will inform policymakers and educators as they make critical decisions about teacher compensation and the entire system of support for educators,” SREB President Stephen L. Pruitt said.

“While state budgets face serious challenges this year because of the pandemic, leaders can build long-term plans now to improve the teaching profession and address the teacher shortage in the years to come,” said Pruitt, himself a former science teacher in Georgia.
Teachers in the South are paid nearly 21% less on average than professionals with similar education levels — worse than the national “teacher-wage penalty” of 19%. Average teacher salaries in SREB states and the nation, when adjusted for inflation, are lower than in the 1980s.
More data from the SREB teacher-compensation dashboard:

  • The average salary for all teachers in the 16 SREB states was $53,340, compared with $62,304 nationally.
  • Health-insurance costs for teachers are manageable for individuals in most states, but teachers often pay more than other professionals for monthly health-insurance premiums to cover their families.
  • Teachers’ retirement benefits are substantial for most teachers but don’t pay off as well for teachers who don’t spend their entire careers in the teaching field.

Teachers’ take-home pay is remarkably low overall and doesn’t increase substantially over the course of a teaching career. A first-year teacher earning the average starting salary of $38,420 in SREB states takes home only $27,851 after basic taxes and benefit costs, the dashboard shows.

Average take-home pay in SREB states for a teacher in the profession 15 years increases to only $34,614—and to just $44,105 on average for teachers in their 35th year on the job.
Broad set of solutions
A recent SREB report found that many states have raised teacher pay substantially in recent years, but salaries had barely recovered from cuts and stagnation during the great recession a decade ago. The report urges states to build comprehensive long-term plans to improve teacher preparation, pay, benefits, licensure, and continued training and support.
“State leaders can develop real solutions to the teacher shortage if they’re equipped with all of the information they need. The new dashboard is a major step in that direction and part of our portfolio of work to help states meet this challenge,” said Megan Boren, a policy researcher who leads SREB’s work on teacher-workforce issues.
SREB is working with roundtables of education leaders in several states — Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina — to improve teacher compensation, benefits, preparation and support.

SREB will hold a series of webinars for state leaders on teacher workforce issues, including compensation, in January 2021. In the future, SREB plans to add additional years of data to the dashboard and to show the differences in teacher salaries among rural, urban, and suburban school districts.

For interviews and more information on teacher compensation in your state, contact SREB Communications. 

Media contact: Alan Richard, (404) 875-5528