April 2017, Vol. 1

The latest trends in teacher starting pay

by Patti Ellis

Since 1995, Texas school districts have been subject to the state’s revised requirements to pay educators at least the salary designated by the minimum salary schedule. The minimum salary schedule has changed very few times since then, with the most recent increase in 2015, previously followed by an increase for fall 2006. While the minimum salary schedule includes 20 years, we will be focusing on the starting salary for new teachers.

Trends in districts paying minimum salary

Data from the TASB Salary Survey show that since 2007, fewer districts are paying the state minimum teacher salary, instead paying above the minimum required. In 2007–08, 8 percent of districts were paying starting teachers at the state minimum. In 2016–17, only 1.5 percent of districts were paying starting teachers at the state minimum. Those districts paying at state minimum or close to it, tend to have fewer than 1,000 students.

While the number of districts paying exactly at state minimum is relatively small, many districts have starting salaries that remain near the state minimum. In 2007–08, 35 percent of districts paid a beginning teacher within $3,000 of the state minimum salary. That percentage also has steadily decreased over time. In 2016–17, just 10 percent of school districts were paying within that margin.

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Based on districts responding to the TASB District Personnel Salary Survey.

Taking a broader look, survey trends a decade ago showed most districts paid within $10,000 of the state minimum salary with very few districts venturing more than $10,000 above it. However, the latter group has been growing steadily, and the 2016–17 survey data shows that for the first time the number of districts paying more than $10,000 above the state minimum for beginning teachers dominates over those paying within $10,000.

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Highest starting teacher pay in Texas

The trend in districts paying further above the state minimum is due, in part, to the steady increase in the maximum beginning teacher pay across Texas school districts. Higher starting teacher pay can be attributed to many factors, including districts gradually catching up to the market and districts wanting to remain competitive to recruit teachers statewide. In the past 10 years, the highest reported starting teacher salary has increased more than $8,000.

As more districts have veered away from the minimum salary schedule and look to become more competitive with the market, the median starting teacher salary in Texas is catching up to the average salary. Historically, the median has been lower than the average because of the districts hovering at or near the state minimum starting pay.

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Even with districts moving away from the starting pay at or near the state minimum, the majority of starting salaries historically have been under $40,000 annually. Only in 2016–17 did we see an even split above and below $40,000.

Looking ahead

If history is any indicator, teacher starting pay will slowly, but steadily, continue to increase. As millennials are now the largest slice of the workforce, pay is certainly not the only factor to consider. Millennials strive to make a difference and find a path to personal and professional growth. Nevertheless, innovation is a key expectation of the up and coming workforce, so sticking to the same practices, even with compensation, likely will not attract or retain the next generation of educators.