Which States Are Friendliest to Teachers?

Which States Are Friendliest to Teachers?

Education Week

By Alix Mammina on September 27, 2017 11:39 AM

New York takes first place while Arizona ranks as the worst state for teachers to work in, according to a new report from the personal finance website WalletHub.

The study evaluated 21 key indicators across two categories—”Opportunity & Competition,” which covers salaries, pensions, and tenure protections, and “Academic & Work Environment,” which includes average pupil-teacher ratio and quality of school systems. After calculating a total score based on averages across all metrics, WalletHub ranked each state and the District of Columbia from the best to worst places for teachers to work.

New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania rounded out the top five best states. New York racked up the most points in opportunity and competition due to its high rate of public-school spending per student, while New Jersey took first spot in the academic and work environment ranking because of its high-quality school systems and low pupil-teacher ratio. Illinois ranked second for both highest annual salary and lowest projected teacher turnover, likely contributing to its overall high placement.

See alsoNew Report Names the Best Cities to Live in If You’re a Teacher

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the top five worst states for teachers included Hawaii, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida. Hawaii took last place in the opportunity and competition ranking, weighed down by having both the lowest average starting salary—$24,508—and the lowest average annual salary, at just $34,308.

Arizona’s low ranking can be attributed to its high pupil-teacher ratio and projected teacher turnover rate. These factors are indicative of its current teacher shortage—which has gotten so bad, some school districts in the state are hiring teachers without bachelor’s degrees or even any teacher training or experience.

But some critics have questioned the validity of WalletHub’s findings. After the release of the first annual report in 2014, Washington Post reporter Valerie Strauss noted that the rankings don’t include key metrics like job protections or fair evaluations. And while WalletHub breaks down each state’s rank and score, the full data set for the study isn’t provided—a drawback that Education Week Teacher noted after the release of the first report.

Want to know how your state stacks up? Take a look at the interactive map below, or check out the online report for a full list of rankings.

Best & Worst States for Teachers

Overall Rank
(1 = Best)
State Total Score ‘Opportunity & Competition’ Rank ‘Academic & Work Environment’ Rank
1 New York 68.12 1 10
2 New Jersey 66.43 18 1
3 Illinois 65.71 3 7
4 Connecticut 64.12 21 2
5 Pennsylvania 63.65 11 4
6 Minnesota 62.67 10 9
7 Massachusetts 61.32 23 3
8 Wyoming 61.22 9 16
9 Ohio 59.54 15 13
10 Oregon 59.18 2 34
11 Utah 58.93 13 19
12 Michigan 57.82 5 31
13 Rhode Island 57.80 17 21
14 North Dakota 57.60 31 5
15 Indiana 57.10 16 24
16 Missouri 56.62 8 38
17 Kentucky 56.52 12 26
18 Iowa 56.40 19 23
19 California 55.77 6 42
20 Texas 55.55 4 46
21 Wisconsin 55.47 29 11
22 Washington 55.21 27 18
23 Nevada 55.09 7 43
24 Delaware 55.04 32 8
25 Virginia 54.36 26 22
26 Georgia 53.55 20 32
27 Vermont 53.26 40 6
28 Idaho 53.25 22 28
29 Alaska 51.51 14 48
30 Nebraska 51.43 25 33
31 Maryland 51.21 37 17
32 Kansas 50.79 38 20
33 Colorado 50.68 43 12
34 Arkansas 50.31 28 36
35 Alabama 49.35 24 45
36 District of Columbia 48.59 30 40
37 New Hampshire 48.21 47 14
38 Tennessee 47.52 34 37
39 West Virginia 47.44 36 35
40 South Dakota 46.02 41 30
41 Maine 45.97 49 15
42 Oklahoma 45.71 33 44
43 Montana 45.47 44 29
44 New Mexico 44.87 39 41
45 North Carolina 44.59 46 27
46 Louisiana 43.83 35 49
47 Florida 42.30 50 25
48 Mississippi 41.32 42 51
49 South Carolina 41.16 45 47
50 Hawaii 39.19 51 39
51 Arizona 37.72 48 50