It’s not news that teacher pay is low. Low salaries have prompted teachers to march at state capitals around the country, and the topic has inspired the platforms of presidential hopefuls. A competitive salary is an obvious and important way to acknowledge the hard work teachers do each day, but there are even more research-backed benefits to increasing teacher pay. Here are the top six:
1. Increasing teacher pay strengthens the pipeline
When teacher pay is a problem, fewer people want to become teachers. It’s just that simple. A majority (76%) of responders to a TIME poll said they agreed that many people won’t go into teaching because it doesn’t pay enough. This means fewer graduates of teacher education programs, and fewer teachers looking to fill the increase in demand for teachers.
Increasing teacher pay could strengthen the quality of the future workforce. In the U.S., only 23% of teachers graduated in the top third of their college class . In comparison, in Singapore, Finland, and Korea almost all teachers graduate at the top of their class. Raising pay would make teaching a more appealing career overall.
2. It keeps teachers in the classroom
Unsurprisingly, teacher pay has been shown to reduce turnover (which, in turn, increases student performance). Turnover is about 16% each year, and around 8% of teachers annually leave the profession entirely as opposed to moving to another school. it’s interesting to note that within the U.S., teacher turnover is lowest in the Northeast (10.3%) where pay is higher and there is a greater investment in education.
3. It helps staffing in urban districts
Schools in urban districts have a particularly difficult time staffing all their positions. Increasing teacher pay in high-needs districts can attract teachers to those schools. For example, a study in San Francisco found that when the salary for teaching was increased, the size and quality of teacher applicants increased.
4. It means fewer teachers working second jobs
In 2015-2016, 18% of U.S. teachers worked second jobs, in everything from online teaching to retail. Teachers are 30% more likely than non-teachers to have a second job. It goes without saying that raising teacher pay so teachers didn’t have to work a second job would boost teacher morale and help them stay focused on their classrooms.
5. It means less dependence on government programs
In some states, teacher salaries are so low that teachers routinely qualify for public benefits like food stamps or public health care programs (like children’s health insurance programs). This is especially true for teachers who are the primary breadwinner in their family or have large families. For example, in 2014, mid-career teachers qualified for up to seven government benefit programs in states from Minnesota to Maine.
6. Higher pay for teachers means students do better
When teachers get paid more, students do better. In one study, a 10% increase in teacher pay was estimated to produce a 5 to 10% increase in student performance. Teacher pay also has long-term benefits for students. A 10% increase in per-pupil spending for each of the 12 years of education results in students completing more education, having 7% higher wages, and having a reduced rate of adult poverty. These benefits are even greater for families who are in poverty.
It’s unclear as to why students do so much better when teachers get more money—perhaps it’s an increase in teacher quality or having support from the adults. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that teacher pay should increase.
What benefits to increasing teacher pay would you add to the list? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out these districts that pay teachers six figures.