Good teachers earn more in new jobs

When teachers leave the classroom for other professions, effective teachers earn more than less-effective ex-teachers. So says a study using value-added data by Matthew Chingos and Martin West of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance.

The Education Gadfly summarizes:

. . . among grade 4-8 teachers leaving for other professions, there was a positive relationship between a teacher’s increase in value-added math and reading student achievement and higher earnings outside of teaching. Admittedly, the sample was small, not randomly-selected, and only from one state, but the authors’ conclusion makes sense: “Although teaching is surely a unique endeavor requiring specialized skills, the same attributes that make for effective teachers also appear to be rewarded in the broader labor market.”

In the teaching profession, there is little relationship between effectiveness and earnings, the study finds. (No surprise.)

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  1. Yes no surprise. It is an apples to oranges comparison.

    The public education system is very different than non-union jobs in the private sector. I am assuming those teachers didn’t take a state construction road work job with a union or some other union job. I bet they moved to the private sector.

    Someone I know in a union job at Yale was upset daily as she was doing 2x the work as her co-workers and got nothing for it except sometimes some positive feedback orally from her supervisor, but also the boss was a big slacker. Why bother working so hard when there is no reward and even no respect from co-workers?

    When the pay is based on the job seniority and the performance review has no relation to the pay raise or other perks (like incentive performance bonuses) there is a problem.

    However in the private sector there may be higher pay and some good bonuses but that is not without risk. Some of the jobs some people think pay too much money especially in bonuses (Wall Street for one) are very risky jobs with little stability, and I was told a study said that Wall Street workers have the highest rate of drug and alcohol addiction due to the high stress. When I worked at a HMO I was told Wall Street firms pay the highest premiums due to their addiction, stress issues like cardiac problems etc. Pretty sad that their jobs are making them sick or driving them to drugs and alcholo, huh?

    It’s also not fair to compare government workers (teachers) salaries to private sectors at for-profit companies. I mean, let’s say a beverage company makes a bottled drink and consumers buy it and the company makes a great profit what is wrong with them paying their employees a higher salary than a teacher gets? The workers help produce and advertise and market their widget and the consumers freely purchase it, and the workers get paid well. That is not the same as teachers getting paid with taxpayers money when the taxpayers are forced by the government to pay more and more and more. If I want to continue owning this house I have no choice but to keep paying more and more taxes which are out of alignment with inflation.

    How can it be justified for the town to increase my property taxes 9-10% every single year (all due to the education budget) when two months ago my husband’s then-employer (in the private sector) notified almost all the employees there would be no pay raise despite excellent performance reviews and profits made and shareholders getting paid their dividends? This defies logic.

    And I don’t want to hear about teachers getting cost of living raises in alignment with inflation, no such thing goes on in the private sector.

  2. I should have said I live in Connecticut which is second on the list for highest paid in the USA.

    Another issue is the administrators. Our superintendents in my town and around here make a quarter of a million dollars a year, more than some Wall Street employees make.

  3. These results indicate that Florida teachers leaving for full-time employment in other industries are not taking jobs that are, on average, better compensated than their positions as

    So their whole point is what? They themselves state the majority of teachers left the classroom to move up the payscale within the public school system.

    First, a majority of those leaving the
    classroom remained employed by public school districts, suggesting that a substantial amount of
    attrition from classroom teaching reflects movement into administrative or other non-teaching
    positions within the public school system.

    Not to mention the fact they also admit value added estimates may not be the best way to measure teacher effectiveness:

    On the other hand, value-added measures are at best noisy indicators of teacher quality and may be biased by non-random sorting of students and teachers

    Anyone with a few years teaching experience can tell you what non-random sorting means, be it intentional or unintentional.

    Joanne and the Education Gadly, are trying to spin this as a negative, but it appears the opposite; Florida schools are promoting the best of what they have.

  4. The headline on this post is misleading. The study did find teachers earned more in new jobs, but 64% of those teachers went into other jobs in education.

    Of those leaving education for private sector jobs, Chingos and West found overall median income fell by 20%. Teachers leaving education for other professions took pay cuts. (A “substantial number” of the teachers went into part-time jobs.) Not including benefits, the pay cuts amounted to:
    -$8,649 for all K-8 teachers
    -$2,868 for male K-8 teachers
    -$10,197 for female K-8 teachers
    -$5,673 for 9-12 teachers
    -$3,564 for male 9-12 teachers
    -$7,203 for female 9-12 teachers

    Education Gadfly may find the authors’ conclusions make sense, but I do not. If the results of this study show any cause-effect relationship, it’s that the skills of effective teachers are not financially rewarded outside education.

  5. tim-10-ber says:

    The government sector at the federal and state level pay better than local government and private sector jobs. Teachers make a good annual salary…even first year ones compared to entry level jobs for liberal arts graduates.

    One of these days the taxpayers will wake up and demand a smaller government…I can hope, can’t I?

  6. I’ll listen to people wanting to cut teachers’ pay when those people advocate cutting defense spending by at least half.

  7. Glen McGhee says:

    There is a big difference between the effective classroom and the effective teacher. Does this study assume that they are the same thing?

    How plausible is it that those teachers in effective classrooms are able to leverage that outside the classroom as well? Effectiveness, after all, is a form of legitimacy, with its own prestige and reputational status. Why would we NOT expect the one to preceed the other outside the effective classroom?

  8. Well it’s nice to see some of the same, old faces desperately trying to spin this study to some other conclusion then the obvious: teaching skill isn’t valued within the teaching profession.

    The secondary conclusion is that teachers, and public education employees in general, are overpaid. That makes sense since the effective monopoly enjoyed by the public education system allows the skills of the employees to be lightly-valued while their ability to create political pressure isn’t.

  9. “In the teaching profession, there is little relationship between effectiveness and earnings, the study finds.”

    If I teach my students that Martha Washington was the first president, that the seasons are capitalized, that finding the square root of zero is just a matter of effort–I still bring home the same amount of money.

    I have been monitored by administration to be sure I’m on time, that I take attendance accurately, that I chaperone school dances, that I get my grades in on time.

    I have never had an administrator to check to see if my students are learning.

    Sure, there are state tests, but only recently have results been identified with the students of a particular teacher.

    And when the results come in, it’s usually the next year. Nobody looks back.

    Imagine this. It’s November. A principal pulls me aside and says, “Mr. Wright, I notice that less than half of your students know where the commas go in a sentence. Do you have a plan to address that?”

    That’s never happened and the way schools are structured, it’s never going to happen.

  10. robert,

    i always enjoy reading your comments on this site. you offer good perspective. i happen to disagree with your very last statement, though, mainly b/c my own experience has differed from yours.

    i teach in an inner city school, with high poverty, high numbers of ell/iep students and all that jazz.

    my principal, math instructional coach and other distinguished educators have come to me (and the other math teachers) asking what we would do to address areas of weakness as measured on quarterly standardized test. they have done it on numerous occasions — even if a particular area has shown improvement, they ask again if the area has still not reached a “proficient” level.

    that being said — we are in corrective action 1 million and this didn’t happen my first year or 2 teaching at the school. i’m now in year 5 and the admin are becoming ever more frantic to cover their butts (and sometimes, the teachers’ as well). i think calling us out on specific skills and concepts is one of their attempts to show that we are trying to improve.

  11. maia, there’s nothing in what Robert, or I, wrote which asserts that the public education system precludes a teacher from establishing an excellent learning environment in a classroom or a principal from creating an excellent learning environment in a school. It’s just that the system as it’s currently structured provides no rewards for doing so.

    Without some organizational imperative to pursue educational excellence the pursuit of educational excellence becomes entirely a personal crusade. Don’t expect any help from your principal or superintendent and if you get it go buy a lottery ticket, maybe your luck will hold.

    By the way, what do you thing will happen to the environment created by your principal when your principal moves on/retires? Will the replacement follow the same policies and pursue the same ends? If you answer “yes” then explain why you think so.

  12. allen,

    i was merely commenting that my experience has been different from robert’s and that saying a principal will never ask a teacher about their actual teaching is not a true statement. i was not disagreeing with his entire post — just the last sentence.

    as to your questions about my principal leaving — good lord, those are loaded questions! i would think that some things will stay the same b/c of decisions the district makes for us but many things will change. while my principal may be asking what we’re doing to address these academics, he undermines the discipline/management of teachers all the time and this negates many of the positive things he’s trying to do academically. i would hope someone new would address dicipline in the building. but that’s just one issue.

    at this point, if a new admin came into the building hoping to just stay afloat, then many things will be the same — do what looks good to the state (which is part of the reason my principal asks us about specific skills, i think.)

    while i think it’s false to say that no administrators will ever ask about the teaching going on in a classroom, i would not dare to assume that the way my principal runs things is the norm, either.

    i don’t know if i answered your questions allen. as an aside, your statement: “Without some organizational imperative to pursue educational excellence the pursuit of educational excellence becomes entirely a personal crusade” rang true with me and is very frustrating.

  13. I understand that you’re writing from personal experience but my interest is the public education system in general. In that context your experience is unusual, even remarkable. In that context a principal who asks for a teacher’s opinion is the unusual principal for the reasons I’ve laid out.

    Now you know why teacher turnover is so high. Pretty tough to keep your moral up when you know your skills aren’t valued, your opinions will be ignored and your greatest accomplishment will be to cause your superiors no trouble.

    There are winds of change blowing but they’ve got a ways to go before they reach their peak and blow away the old. Enjoy your oasis, such as it is.


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