Topic: Teacher Compensation
Insufficient compensation is a key contributing factor as to why many states have trouble attracting and retaining a strong teacher workforce. Not only is inadequate pay one of the top reasons teachers cite for choosing to leave, it is also one of the top reasons prospective teachers identify for ultimately choosing not to enter the profession in the first place.
Teachers consistently earn significantly less than other college-educated workers — in the SREB region, the “teacher wage gap” is approximately 21 percent.
What do strong teacher compensation systems look like?
- Move away from traditional “step and lane” salary schedules that are based solely on degree level and years of service, as these do not consistently correlate with strong teaching. Instead, create a new salary structure that is connected to a tiered licensure system. This licensure system should be based on a combination of inputs, including degrees, years of experience, and teachers’ growth and impact. This aligned licensure system should also allow teachers to advance through as they grow their skills, knowledge and competencies.
- Reward teachers’ growth and leadership. In alignment with the tiered licensure system, give strong teachers various options for advanced roles and responsibilities that come with higher base salaries.
- Embed cost of living raises and licensure renewal raises, so wages do not stay stagnant for teachers at any level.
- Keep an eye on take-home pay — make sure that premiums and retirement contributions are affordable and still leave teachers with a living net wage.
- Explore how to improve the holistic professional compensation package, beyond just salary. For example, examine options for health and retirement benefits to find places to improve.
How SREB supports teacher compensation policies
SREB publishes data, analyzes policies, and tracks state proposals for changes to K-12 teacher compensation. We also work with states directly to identify innovative approaches to compensation structures and to improve upon other teacher retention strategies.
The newly designed Teacher Compensation Dashboard features state-by-state annual data for the Southern region on teacher compensation packages, including: salaries, health and retirement benefits, and take-home pay calculations.