Average teacher salary increases, but still below inflation and national averages

The average teacher salary in Idaho rose 3.2% to $54,806 this school year, according to the state Department of Education.

The average salary of teachers has increased band $8,367 or 18%, since the career ladder was implemented during the 2016-2017 school year. However, compared to teacher salaries in other states and after accounting for inflation, teacher salaries are still relatively low.

Idaho teachers also earn less than their peers in other fields who have the same level of education.

“Inadequate remuneration”, as a report 2021 of the Center for Fiscal Policy in Idaho called it, associated with “growing demands in the workplace” to keep teachers away from schools. The timing couldn’t be worse as learners continue to recover from pandemic-era learning disruptions.

Teachers are leaving Idaho for higher pay in other states and are grappling with “sharp increases in rents and real estate prices,” according to the report.

The average value of single-family homes in Idaho has risen about 173% since the third quarter of 2011, compared to nearly 80% nationally, according to a report 2022 from the Idaho Department of Labor. In communities like Hailey and Driggs, teachers are live in motorhomes or turning down jobs because of the cost of living.

And, according to a 2022 report by the Economic Policy Institute, an independent nonprofit think tank, teachers in Idaho earned 25.2% less than other comparable college-educated workers.

In a fall 2022 EdNews survey of more than 500 Idaho teachers, 52% said low pay was a “serious” or “very serious” concern, and in October, 27 of 36 administrators surveyed by EdNews said their teacher turnover this year was “more than average.” In their own words, teachers said their profession was becoming untenable for a myriad of reasons.

Nationally, Idaho teacher pay lagged in five benchmark areas — starting salary, first bachelor’s, first master’s, top master’s, and top salary.

The National Education Association report 2022 showed that teachers in Idaho earn less than the national average in all five benchmark areas. Teachers’ average highest salary, or the salary they earn at the peak of their career, fares the worst, ranking 48th nationally.

This data aligns with a finding from the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy’s 2021 report: While entry-level teachers saw their salaries increase, veteran teachers did not enjoy similar salary growth.

National Education Association: Idaho Teacher Salary Benchmark Averages

Reference Average teacher salary in Idaho National ranking (over 50 states, federal schools and DC) Above or below the national average
Starting salary $39,842 30 Below the national average of $41,770
The best baccalaureate $52,420 44 (7 NA states) Below the national average of $60,381
Beginning of the Masters $41,233 42 (5 NA states) Below the national average of $45,391
topmaster $56,797 46 (7 NA states) Below the national average of $70,279
Best salary $59,110 48 (1 state NA) Below the national average of $76,540

*Data according to a 2022 NEA report on teacher compensation 2020-2021

This school year, the state allowance for teachers’ starting salary was $40,369, according to Idaho law.

Idaho teacher pay does not track inflation, teacher pay in other states, or the pay of those with a similar education. However, wages have generally increased since 2016-2017, with the exception of a pandemic-induced wage cut in 2020-2021.

School year Average teacher salary
22-23 $54,806
21-22 $53,100
20-21 $50,794
19-20 $51,697
18-19 $49,794
17-18 $48,113
16-17 $46,439

Behind this overall wage growth lies a story of a concerted legislative efforts aimed at increasing teachers’ salaries. Here is a timeline:

  • In 2015, lawmakers passed a five-year salary career ladder for teachers, a $250 million plan to raise salaries over time.
  • In 2016-2017, the career ladder came into force.
  • In 2019, the Legislature endorsed Governor Brad Little’s two-year plan to raise salaries for new teachers.
  • In 2019, teachers became eligible to receive master teacher bonuses, earning an additional $12,000 over four years. However, the program has been beset by delays and criticism and “shuts down” in 2021, after only two cohorts of Idaho teachers received the bonuses.
  • In 2020, Small introduced an advanced professional endorsement program. Under the program, the state distributes additional funds to districts for teachers who demonstrate proficiency.
    • But districts have the option of pouring these funds into the salaries of all teachers rather than just the teachers who earned them..This means that in some districts teachers can earn up to $11,000 through annual bonuses, while in others there is no such opportunity.
  • In 2021, Little sought and received $44.9 million in fresh money for the career ladder.
  • In 2022, teachers in rural and underserved districts were invited to apply for Grants of $12,000 to be spread over four years. Grants will cover study costs, such as additional degrees, loan repayment, or technical career certifications.

In Idaho, teacher compensation is largely based on experience and education; performance is not a major factor.

Idaho Education News will continue to follow teacher salary policy and legislation as the session begins in 2023.

Data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.

Carly Flanders

About Carly Flandro

Journalist Carly Flandro works in the East Idaho bureau of EdNews. A former high school English teacher, she writes about teaching, learning, diversity and equity. You can follow Flandro on Twitter @idahoedcarly and send him topical tips at [email protected]

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