Analysts at WalletHub ranked the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 21 key indicators of teacher-friendliness, eSchool News reports.
New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Wyoming, Ohio and Oregon ranked highest on the list while Oklahoma, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Hawaii and Arizona ranked at the bottom on these measures.
Teaching remains a struggle for beginning teachers with about 20% leaving the profession before the end of the first year and roughly half never making it past five.
While studies such as this offer some interesting perspectives on teacher satisfaction issues, they never tell the whole story. Much of the methodology for this report by WalletHub is based on economic factors, which, while important, do not always address the deeper issues of why teachers choose to teach in the first place. Very few teachers choose the profession because they desire wealth.
Economic factors do play a real role in whether teachers can afford to stay in the profession and these do need to be addressed. However, poorer districts often have something else to offer which is less measurable. It may the chance to experience a different culture or region or a chance to serve students who truly need help. It may even be issues such as access to educational, cultural or natural resources. Note that Hawaii was on the bottom of this list when it offers clear natural advantages that were not considered.
School administrators often can do little to improve teacher compensation other than to advocate for teachers at budget time. What they can do is address some of the other elements on the list that was used to compute these scores. For instance, though base salary usually falls beyond the reach of a superintendent, the income growth potential of teachers can be increased through developing an “opportunity culture,” which allows highly-effective teachers to earn more by mentoring beginning teachers. Helping teachers achieve professional goals such as certification or a master’s degree can not only improve their teaching skills, but can also encourage them to stay in the profession. What many teachers crave is a supportive working environment. Schools that can offer these supports, particularly to vulnerable, beginning teachers, may beat the statistical odds for attracting and retaining teachers.