Special Report

The States Where It’s Best (and Worst) to Be a Teacher

To identify the states where it’s best (and worst) to be a teacher, 24/7 Tempo constructed an index of four measures:

1) Average annual pay, which was adjusted based on the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ 2016 cost of living measure, came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program. These wage statistics were weighted for each state’s different primary, middle, and secondary employment composition.

2) Student-teacher ratio was computed by 24/7 Tempo using data obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Common Core of Data (CCD). For this calculation, we counted teachers as defined by the CCD as any professional school staff member who instructs students in prekindergarten, kindergarten, grades one through 12, or ungraded classes, and maintains daily student attendance records. The number of students also came from the CCD.

3) The percentage of new teachers who are expected to qualify for a pension came from Teacher Pensions.org and is as of January 2019. This measure estimates the likelihood a new teacher will leave the profession before being entitled to receive retirement benefits.

4) The overall state quality grade given to each state by research and policy group the National Council for Teacher Quality’s 2017 annual report.

In addition to these four measures used for ranking the states, we reviewed a range of other related statistics. The percentage of high school students who graduate on time, measured by the adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) is for the 2016–17 school year and came from the National Center for Education Statistics. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test results for each state’s public fourth and eighth graders were obtained from news organization and research center Education Week’s 2019 Chance for Success report.