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The Ten States That Pay Teachers The Most (And Why It Doesn't Matter)

6. Mississippi (C-)

> Average Salary 2010/2011: $46,818
> # of Enrolled Students Per Teacher 2010/2011: 13.8 (19th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Math Score 2009: 265 (50th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading Score 2009: 251.3 (50th)
> Average Daily Attendance as a % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 95.6% (10th)
> High School Graduation Rate as % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 4.85% (50th)

Gov. Haley Barbour recommended funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, or MAEP,  the state’s education funding formula, at the current level of just more than $2 billion, the Hattiesburg American says. Biloxi Superintendent recently warned of possible teacher layoffs. In fact, the Associated Press noted that most of Mississippi’s 152 school districts have lost personnel, including teachers, principals and assistant principals.

5. Florida (B-)

> Average Salary 2010/2011: $46,702
> # of Enrolled Students Per Teacher 2010/2011: 16 (38th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Math Score 2009: 279.33 (34th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading Score 2009: 264.36 (30th)
> Average Daily Attendance as a % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 94.5% (14th)
> High School Graduation Rate as % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 5.65% (44th)

Schools in Florida, who have slashed 12,000 jobs over the past 36 months, are worried that more layoffs would be needed under Gov. Rick Scott’s spending plan. If Scott’s proposal were to pass, that would mean that the Miami-Dade School District would need to cut $150 million and lay off some workers. The Florida Education Association has vowed to fight a bill in the Legislature that would tie all teacher pay to test scores because a “proven evaluation” system is not in place.

4. Utah  ( C-)

> Average Salary 2010/2011: $46,571
> # of Enrolled Students Per Teacher 2010/2011: 22.3 (50th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Math Score 2009: 284.06 (28th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading Score 2009: 265.59 (23rd)
> Average Daily Attendance as a % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 75.5% (50th)
> High School Graduation Rate as % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 5.23% (49th)

Legislators are considering a bill that would forbid school districts from employing a “last hired, first fired” approach toward layoffs. Gov. Gary Hebert has criticized lawmakers for cutting his proposed spending deeply. “A report by two Georgetown researchers indicated that 66 percent of all jobs in Utah — approximately 1 million — will require some post-secondary training or education beyond high school in 2018,” according to the Desert News.

3. Missouri ( C)

> Average Salary 2010/2011: $46,411
> # of Enrolled Students Per Teacher 2010/2011: 13.2 (11th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Math Score 2009: 285.8 (22nd)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading Score 2009: 266.87 (17th)
> Average Daily Attendance as a % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 92.6% (30th)
> High School Graduation Rate as % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 6.99% (16th)

Though state funding is remaining even, schools are losing ground because costs are beginning to rise, according to the Missouri School Boards’ Association. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Howell Board Member Cynthia Bice as saying “”This is like asking me which of my children are my favorite” when discussing possible layoffs.  Kelvin Adams recently was awarded a three-year contract extension as superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools.  Standardized test scores rose under his leadership.

2. North Dakota (C)

> Average Salary 2010/2011: $44,266
> # of Enrolled Students Per Teacher 2010/2011: 11.9 (6th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Math Score 2009: 292.84 (4th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading Score 2009: 269.24 (10th)
> Average Daily Attendance as a % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 92.6% (31st)
> High School Graduation Rate as % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 7.19% (12th)

North Dakota legislators have proposed overhauling the state’s education system that would create a Department of Education starting Jan. 1, 2015, to oversee all aspects of public education.  Proposed federal spending cuts would slash the budget of the Bismark School District by $6 million.  Minot officials are also warning of cuts.

1. South Dakota  (D+)

> Average Salary 2010/2011: $35,201
> # of Enrolled Students Per Teacher 2010/2011: 13.4 (14th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Math Score 2009: 290.61 (8th)
> Average National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading Score 2009: 270.06 (8th)
> Average Daily Attendance as a % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 94.3% (20th)
> High School Graduation Rate as % of Fall Enrollment 2010/2011: 6.60% (24th)

Members of the South Dakota Senate are balking at Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s proposed 10% cut in education spending, a move that the South Dakota Education Association says would “devastate” public schools.  “When you talk about a 10 percent cut in education, at this stage in the game in Rapid City, South Dakota, it is in some form or fashion affecting students,” Rapid City Board Director Dave Janak tells the Rapid City Journal. During his recent campaign Daugaard vowed to strengthen math and science education.

– Jonathan Berr

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to a plan by city officials to close schools in Kansas City, Kansas. In fact, this occurred in Kansas City, Missouri.