Higher grades, lower skill
levels?

High school students in the U.S. are getting better
grades, but are apparently learning less than students
15 years ago,
according to two reports released by the
Department of Education Thursday. Staffer Mitchell
Landsberg reports that a review of high school transcripts
found that students have been getting higher GPAs than
their predecessors. But a look at the same students'
standardized test results revealed that reading scores
have generally been dropping since 1992. The Daily News
has more.

Union deal thwarts Brewer's plans

Last week, the teachers union struck a 6% salary raise
deal with the district - "dealing a major blow to the authority
of L.A. Unified's new superintendent, casting doubt on his
ability to fulfill his promised reforms," reports Naush
Boghossian of the Daily News. Supt. David Brewer the
"transformer" finds himself having to cut $200 million from
his budget to pay for the raises: money needed for his
visions of reform.
Improving teacher quality and student learning
How Much Are Public School
Teachers Paid?
by Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

The Mission of the Manhattan Institute is to develop and
disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic
choice and individual responsibility.

Civic Report No. 50 January 2007
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_50.htm

Education policy discussions often assume that
public school teachers are poorly paid.
Typically
absent in these discussions about teacher pay,
however, is any reference to systematic data on how
much public school teachers are actually paid,
especially relative to other occupations. Because
discussions about teacher pay rarely reference these
data, the policy debate on education reform has
proceeded without a clear understanding of these
issues.

This report compiles information on the hourly pay of
public school teachers nationally and in 66 metropolitan
areas, as collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS) in its annual National Compensation
Survey. We also compare the reported hourly income of
public school teachers with that of workers in similar
professions, as defined by the BLS. This report goes on
to use the BLS data to analyze whether there is a
relationship between higher relative pay for public
school teachers and higher student achievement as
measured by high school graduation rates.

Among the key findings of this report:

According to the BLS, the average public school teacher
in the United States earned $34.06 per hour in 2005.

The average public school teacher was paid 36% more
per hour than the average non-sales white-collar worker
and 11% more than the average professional specialty
and technical worker.

Full-time public school teachers work on average 36.5
hours per week during weeks that they are working. By
comparison, white-collar workers (excluding sales)
work 39.4 hours, and professional specialty and
technical workers work 39.0 hours per week. Private
school teachers work 38.3 hours per week.

Compared with public school teachers, editors and
reporters earn 24% less; architects, 11% less;
psychologists, 9% less; chemists, 5% less; mechanical
engineers, 6% less; and economists, 1% less.

Compared with public school teachers, airplane pilots
earn 186% more; physicians, 80% more; lawyers, 49%
more; nuclear engineers, 17% more; actuaries, 9%
more; and physicists, 3% more.


Public school teachers are paid 61% more per hour
than private school teachers, on average nationwide.


The Detroit metropolitan area has the highest average
public school teacher pay among metropolitan areas for
which data are available, at $47.28 per hour, followed by
the San Francisco metropolitan area at $46.70 per hour,
and the New York metropolitan area at $45.79 per hour...

Introduction

Education policy discussions often assume that public
school teachers are poorly paid. “Salaries are too low.
We all know that,” says First Lady Laura Bush,
expressing the consensus view. “We need to figure out
a way to pay teachers more.”[1] Teachers’ unions
consistently contend that their members are under-
compensated. “It’s easier to earn more money with less
stress in other fields,” laments a representative for the
National Education Association.[2] The problem is so
severe, asserts Washington Post columnist Richard
Cohen, that teachers ought to be exempt from paying
income tax...

How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid?

...According to the BLS, the average public school
teacher in the United States earned $34.06 per hour in
2005. (See Table 1.) The average white-collar worker
(excluding sales) earned $25.08 per hour, and the
average professional specialty and technical worker
earned $30.66 per hour. The average public school
teacher was paid 36% more per hour than the average
non-sales white-collar worker and 11% more than the
average professional specialty and technical worker.
Nationwide, public school teachers earn more than the
average workers with whom they are grouped into
categories by the BLS.

The Detroit metropolitan area has the highest average
public school teacher pay among metropolitan areas for
which data are available, at $47.28 per hour. (See Table
1A.) The average public school teacher in the San
Francisco metropolitan area is not far behind, at $46.70
per hour. The third-highest average public school
teacher pay is in the New York metropolitan area
($45.79). The top ten metro areas in terms of average
public school teacher pay can all be found in California,
Michigan, or the Northeast...


But these rankings are strongly influenced by the
different cost of living found in various metropolitan
areas...

... Elkhart, Indiana, has the highest-paid public school
teachers because the average public school teacher
makes 87% more than the average white-collar worker
in the same area. Metro Grand Rapids, Michigan, has
the second-highest public school teacher earnings
relative to white-collar workers, with teachers making
80% more. Metro Louisville, Kentucky, is third-highest,
where the average public school teacher is paid 79%
more than the average white-collar worker. The Detroit
metro area, which had the highest nominal public
school teacher pay, at $47.28 per hour, had the eighth-
highest pay relative to white-collar workers, with
teachers making 61% more than white-collar workers.

Many of the areas with the lowest nominal pay also had
the lowest pay relative to white-collar workers. In metro
Raleigh, public school teachers are paid 15% less than
the average white-collar worker. That gives Raleigh the
distinction of being the only metro area for which data
are available where the average public school teacher
makes less than the average white-collar worker. Metro
Greensboro and metro Charlotte, North Carolina, were
the next two in lowest pay relative to white-collar
workers, with public school teachers making 1% and
4%, respectively, more than white-collar workers.

But perhaps it would be better to focus on the pay of
public school teachers relative to professional specialty
and technical workers, the subgroup of white-collar
workers with whom they are grouped by the BLS. (See
Table 1C.) Nationwide, the mean hourly earnings for
public school teachers is 36% higher than for white-
collar workers and 11% higher than for professional
workers. In only one of the 66 metropolitan areas with
data available were public school teachers paid less
than white-collar workers. In 11 of 66 metro areas,
public school teachers make less, on average, than
professional specialty and technical workers. The
highest- and lowest-ranked metro areas in terms of
public school teacher pay relative to professional
workers are very similar to the highest and lowest
relative to white-collar workers. In metro Louisville,
public school teachers make 69% more than other
professional workers; in metro Raleigh, they make 29%
less. In all the nation’s largest metropolitan areas,
public school teachers make more than professional
specialty and technical workers. In metro New York, they
make 20% more; in metro Los Angeles, 23% more; and
in metro Chicago, 12% more.

... professional specialty and technical workers ... Public
school teachers have higher earnings than 61 of these
85 occupations. For example, editors and reporters
earn 24% less than public school teachers; architects,
11% less; psychologists, 9% less; chemists, 5% less;
mechanical engineers, 6% less; and economists, 1%
less. Airplane pilots earn 186% more than public
school teachers; physicians, 80% more; lawyers, 49%
more; nuclear engineers, 17% more; actuaries, 9%
more; and physicists, 3% more.

Public school teachers also earn more than private
school teachers. (See Table 3.) Nationwide, public
school teachers are paid 61% more than private school
teachers......

Teachers also report taking work home at high rates:
“Schoolteachers and instructors (excluding college)
especially were likely to take work home, with 2.8
million—or about half of all teachers—reporting such
activity in the May 2004 survey.”[9] But other
professionals also appear to take work home at high
rates: “Almost 30 percent of workers in management,
professional, and related occupations reported working
at home in May 2004.”[10] If any of this work at home,
either by teachers or other professionals, is considered
by the employer to be part of the actual hours worked, it
is included in the BLS figures. It is possible that
teachers, as well as other professionals, put in some
hours at home that are not captured in these numbers,
but those hours would not be considered required for
their jobs and thus are not part of their paid
employment...

Why Not Look at Annual Earnings?

The simple reason for not looking at annual earnings is
that the National Compensation Survey only reports
information on an hourly and a weekly basis, not on an
annual basis. Since we are trying to stick very closely to
what the U.S. Government reports, we do not attempt to
calculate annual earnings in this report.

More important, we do not report annual earnings
because any comparison between public school
teachers and other workers is complicated by the fact
that teachers typically are contractually obligated to work
nine months out of the year, while other white-collar
workers and professionals are 12-month employees.
All else being equal, anyone working fewer months per
year will have a lower annual salary.

But that would be an apple/orange comparison. One of
the significant benefits available to public school
teachers is that they work fewer weeks per year.
Teachers can use that time to be with family, to engage
in activities that they enjoy, or to earn additional money
from other employment. Whether teachers use those
free weeks to make additional money or simply to enjoy
their time off, that time is worth money and cannot
simply be ignored when comparing earnings. The
appropriate way to compare earnings in this
circumstance is to focus on hourly rates.

Is Higher Relative Teacher Pay Associated with Higher
Student Achievement?

...Our measure of student achievement is the metro
area’s high school graduation rate.[11] We rely upon
graduation rates because comparable test-score data
are not available for metro areas across the United
States; in our earlier work on graduation rates, we
developed a relatively reliable and consistent measure
of achievement.

...In neither model does relative teacher pay have any
effect on high school graduation rates. Per-pupil
spending and the student-teacher ratio also have no
effect on high school graduation rates. Metro areas with
a higher percentage of white students have higher
graduation rates. And it appears that metro areas with
fewer students and more school districts have higher
graduation rates.

... But having more small school districts in a metro
area does enhance student performance. With more
numerous, small districts, families can more easily
choose among them to gain access to desired districts.
This easier access to residential school choice
increases competition among districts for students and
the revenues they generate, which provides stronger
incentives to increase the quality of schools...
No more "dance of the
lemons"?

California bill aims to prevent
transfers

Transfers of Incompetent Teachers
Curtailed
By Nancy Vogel
September 29, 2006

In a rare defeat for teachers’
unions, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger signed a bill
Thursday to make it easier for some
principals to reject incompetent
teachers.

The new law won’t make it easier to
fire public school teachers –
something the governor sought and
failed to win with an initiative last
November – but it eliminates one
escape route for teachers facing
bad reviews.

SB 1655 by Sen. Jack Scott (D-
Altadena) restricts future union
contracts so that principals at the
lowest-performing schools no longer
have to give jobs to weak teachers
transferring within the district. The
measure will affect about 3,000
schools.

Currently, union contracts in many
school districts, including Los
Angeles, San Francisco and
Fresno, require principals to accept
teachers who seek transfers. And
teachers often voluntarily transfer to
a new school when they are faced
with a negative evaluation.

The New York nonprofit group New
Teacher Project found in a
November 2005 study of five
districts including San Diego Unified
that administrators had little
discretion in filling roughly 40% of
their vacancies because of union
rules. Researchers also found that
poorly performing teachers were
transferring from school to school...
AUGUST 2003 | EPI book
Economic Policy Institute
Teacher Quality

Understanding the Effectiveness of
Teacher Attributes

By Jennifer King Rice

Executive Summary

Teacher quality matters. In fact, it
is the most important school-
related factor influencing student
achievement. Moreover, teacher
compensation represents a
significant public investment: in
2002 alone, the United States
invested $192 billion in teacher pay
and benefits. Given the size of this
investment, there is remarkably
little research to guide such critical
decisions as whom to hire, retain,
and promote. In the absence of a
strong, robust, and deep body of
research, the debate in this field is
largely ideological.

This analysis reviews a wide range
of empirical studies that examine
the impact of teacher
characteristics on teacher
effectiveness in order to draw
conclusions about the extent to
which these characteristics are, in
fact, linked with teacher
performance. Greater clarity on the
empirical evidence can inform the
wisdom of current practice, guide
state efforts as they struggle with
No Child Left Behind compliance
regarding teacher quality, and
provide direction for future teacher
policy decisions. For example,
developing an approach to policy
that values different and multiple
teacher characteristics based on
the research evidence may prove
promising. It is important to note
that many personal characteristics
important for a good teacher are
not measured in the studies
reviewed. The focus is on aspects
of teacher background that can be
translated into policy
recommendations and
incorporated into teaching practice.

The framework for this study
includes five broad categories of
measurable and policy-relevant
indicators to organize the teacher
characteristics assumed to reflect
teacher quality. It is notable that
findings for these characteristics
frequently differ for teachers at the
elementary school level and
teachers at the high school level
and that the body of research on
the subject of teacher quality
suggests that the context of
teaching matters (e.g., differences
in grade levels, subject areas, and
student populations). A refined
understanding of how teacher
attributes affect their performance
across these different teaching
contexts can be helpful in
determining the range of potentially
effective policy options.

The highlights of the empirical
evidence include:

Teacher experience
• Several studies have found a
positive effect of experience on
teacher effectiveness; specifically,
the “learning by doing” effect is
most obvious in the early years of
teaching.

Teacher preparation programs and
degrees
• Research suggests that the
selectivity/prestige of the institution
a teacher attended has a positive
effect on student achievement,
particularly at the secondary level.
This may partially be a reflection of
the cognitive ability of the teacher.
• Evidence suggests that teachers
who have earned advanced
degrees have a positive impact on
high school mathematics and
science achievement when the
degrees earned were in these
subjects.
• Evidence regarding the impact of
advanced degrees at the
elementary level is mixed.

Teacher certification
• Research has demonstrated a
positive effect of certified teachers
on high school mathematics
achievement when the certification
is in mathematics.
• Studies show little clear impact of
emergency or alternative-route
certification on student
performance in either mathematics
or science, as compared to
teachers who acquire standard
certification.

Teacher coursework
• Teacher coursework in both the
subject area taught and pedagogy
contributes to positive education
outcomes.
• Pedagogical coursework seems
to contribute to teacher
effectiveness at all grade levels,
particularly when coupled with
content knowledge.
• The importance of content
coursework is most pronounced at
the high school level.
• While the studies on the field
experience component of teacher
education are not designed to
reveal causal relationships, they
suggest positive effects in terms of
opportunity to learn the profession
and reduced anxiety among new
teachers.

Teachers’ own test scores
• Tests that assess the literacy
levels or verbal abilities of teachers
have been shown to be associated
with higher levels of student
achievement.
• Studies show the National
Teachers Examination and other
state-mandated tests of basic skills
and/or teaching abilities are less
consistent predictors of teacher
performance.
Making Teacher Hiring Less
Comfortable

By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 5, 2008

For those who still think
helping children learn is
everybody's top priority in our
schools, let me cite a
disturbing dispute over where
to send several hundred
teachers at 23 D.C. schools
that are about to be closed
for inadequate enrollment.

D.C. Schools Chancellor
Michelle A. Rhee wants the
principals of her remaining
schools to decide which of
those excess teachers they
will hire, within the limits of a
contract that guarantees
them jobs somewhere in the
system.
Urban schools
don't work if all adults in
each building don't agree
on what must be done to
make them work.
There is
no chance of that shared
vision if each principal is not
allowed to pick the players on
his or her team...
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