Teacher compensation strategies subject of new series

Education Commission of the States’ Filling in the Gaps of Teacher Compensation, the final part of its teacher compensation series, examined some ways that states are trying to offset the cost of becoming an educator or advancing in the field.

The series previously covered health, salary and retirement benefits as part of an overall compensation package for a teaching position.

Implementing innovative solutions to problems educators face specific to their state or city are becoming increasingly important.

California, for example, has a statute that allows school districts to offer teachers affordable housing within the district. This gives districts access to affordable housing program funding at the state and federal levels.

Education Workforce Housing in California: Developing the 21st Century Campus, a recent report from the University of California, Los Angeles’ cityLAB, UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities + Schools and Terner Center for Housing Innovation and CSBA, offers a look at the need for workforce housing solutions in public education as well as strategies being implemented by districts to make this happen and recommendations to support housing solutions on land that local educational agencies already own. The summer issue of California Schools magazine featured the newest successful educator workforce housing project in the state in “An affordable place to call home.”

The Education Commission of the States’ piece also highlighted Nevada, Georgia and Iowa. Georgia used COVID relief funds to give teachers retention bonuses while Nevada allocated some of the federal funds to providing classroom supplies and additional resources for teachers.

Iowa lets teachers claim a tax deduction for expenses of up to $500 related to purchasing classroom supplies or pursuing professional development.

Financial incentives are listed as part of a comprehensive strategy to address the teacher shortage on the front and back end because of its potential to increase participation in and completion of teacher preparation programs and foster professional growth opportunities and educator retention for those already in the field.

Scholarships, loan forgiveness programs and salary increases are some ways states are supporting aspiring teachers who are weary of taking out student loans just to enter a field that can pay 20 percent less than others that also require a college degree, according to the commission.

More states are also beginning to take note of “hidden costs” associated with preparation programs by offering stipends or reimbursements to pay student teachers for time spent in the classroom and help with living expenses and creating more equitable access to these programs.

Indiana, for example, has $4,000 stipends for student teachers in high-needs fields or special education if they teach in the state for a minimum of three years. The state also has stipends for Black and Latino students to encourage a more diverse workforce.

The District of Columbia has a career ladder that lets teachers receive a base salary increase when they meet criteria to advance to a new certification level. They also have a leadership innovation program that has teachers serve as leaders and earn more by coaching and supporting their peers.

Education Commission of the States has the 50-State Comparison: Teacher Recruitment and Retention and a policy guide available on addressing teacher shortages.