Found in Education: Teacher Salary Comparison, Shortages, and Common Core

We like to compare ourselves to other countries, a lot. Every time the PISA scores come out, there is a public outcry about the poor performance by U.S. Students. But this past week I found another interesting comparison- the difference in pay for teachers by country.  I had a professor whose research focused on comparative teacher labor markets.  He and his colleagues found some fascinating tidbits about training and placement of teachers.  And pay was definitely part of many aspects of the labor market including retention.


I admit that I was surprised that the. U.S. ranked as high as it did. I know earlier reports have put the U.S. teacher salaries at 22.  Notice though that the starting teachers get paid better in Luxembourg than most of the most experienced teachers in other countries.

Of course these are averages. A similar study for U.S. teacher salaries by state tells its own story.  Certainly, most agree that teacher are underpaid in the U.S., but it is unlikely that it will change much.

Also related to the teacher labor market is a new report from the Learning Policy Institute which shows that school districts in California are increasingly relying on "underprepared" teachers. I won't get into the debate on whether these teachers are any better or worse than other teachers, but we do know that teachers working on emergency or temporary credentials are the ones most likely to state that they need extra support and they are also most likely to work in high poverty, high minority schools.

California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

The bigger issue, though, perhaps is that part of the reason that there are more likely to nderpeepared teacherd is that California and other states are experiencing a teacher shortage. Simply put less people are going into teaching to fill ever increasing vacancies.

Finally, a recent article in the Washington Post asks if the Common Core math standards are being misunderstood. This is an editorial, and boy, did it launch a discussion(read the comments section). From the piece and comments come a few salient points:  

  1. The idea of the common core is to have students approach math from a problem solving and inquiry based approach.
  2. Teachers are under enormous pressure to teach students all the possible methods to perform operations which leaves little room for actual inquiry and open-ended problem solving.
  3. The tests only check the right answer not the open ended problem so loving techniques the common core says it is aiming for.
  4. These opposing goals cannot simply be solved by complaining about teachers or the common core. We as a society must determine what skills and knowledge students need to be successful, contributing members of society when they grow up and then we can determine a method to evaluate and assess how we are doing towards those goals.
As always, lots to think about this week.  
Found in Education (F.I.E.) is a weekly blog post on education policy, teaching tips, products, and stories related to education that I find over the week.  See something I should know about? Please send your ideas.  Comment here or leave me a message on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, or at the store.



  1. Very interesting data! I just left my full time classroom teacher position in part due to increasing expectations, licensing requirements, testing pressures, etc. The turnover rate in our country is incredible. I remember reading that of teachers leave the classroom within the first six years. I'm now part of that statistic and working as a part time title 1 math tutor. What can we do - as a country - to retain our teachers? Thanks for highlighting this important topic!


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