UW researchers have found that despite the spoken commitment of state officials and lawmakers, teachers in math and science earn less than other high-school instructors.
Researchers at the University of Washington have found that despite the spoken commitment of state officials and lawmakers, math and science teachers earn less than other high-school instructors.
In a report released Wednesday, the Center on Reinventing Public Education found that 19 of the state’s 30 largest school districts pay math or science teachers less than they spend on teachers in other subjects.
The way Washington and many other states pay teachers — with more money going to those with more years of experience and graduate degrees — has led to the uneven salaries.
Jobs that pay better at nearby high-tech companies may also be a contributing factor, because math and science teachers may be recruited away before they have a chance to reach the higher rungs on the pay ladder, said Jim Simpkins, a researcher on the report, with Marguerite Roza and Cristina Sepe.
Washington State recently passed a law (House Bill 2621) intending to accelerate the teaching and learning of math and science. However, in the two subject areas the state seeks to prioritize, this analysis finds that nineteen of the thirty largest districts in the state spend less per math or science teacher than for teachers in other subjects.
Existing salary schedules are part of the problem. By not allowing any differential compensation for math and science teachers, and instead basing compensation only on longevity and graduate credits, the wage system works to create the uneven salaries.
The analysis finds that in twenty-five of the thirty largest districts, math and science teachers had fewer years of teaching experience due to higher turnover–an indication that labor market forces do indeed vary with subject matter expertise. The subject-neutral salary schedule works to ignore these differences.