What are the current characteristics of teachers and trends in the teaching profession?
In the 2020–21 school year, there were 3.5 million full-time and part-time traditional public school teachers, 251,000 public charter school teachers, and 466,000 private school teachers.1 Compared to the 2017–18 school year—the most recent prior data collection—the number of public school teachers was higher in 2020–21. The number of traditional public school teachers was 5 percent higher than in 2017–18 (3.3 million), and the number of public charter school teachers was 22 percent higher than in 2017–18 (206,000). In contrast, the number of private school teachers was 8 percent lower in 2020–21 than in 2017–18 (509,000).
In the 2020–21 school year, the racial/ethnic composition of the elementary and secondary teacher population varied by school type.
The percentage of teachers who were White was
The percentage of teachers who were Hispanic was
The percentage of teachers who were Black was
The percentage of teachers who were Asian was
The following racial/ethnic groups made up 2 percent or less of elementary and secondary teachers at all three types of schools:
The public charter school teacher workforce was younger than the traditional public and private school teacher workforces in school year 2020–21. Generally, charter schools had higher percentages of their workforces in the age categories under 40 and lower percentages in the age categories 50 and over, compared with traditional public and private school teachers. For instance, the percentage of teachers under 30 was
Conversely, the percentage of teachers who were 60 or over was
Salaries of Public School Teachers
The previous sections of this Fast Fact explored characteristics of all full-time and part-time school teachers. In this section, teacher salary information is presented only for regular full-time teachers in public schools.5 In 2020–21, the average base salary (in current 2020–21 dollars) for full-time public school teachers was $61,600.6 While salaries differ across the country, salary levels for teachers within states or school districts are often set based on teachers’ years of experience and education credentials (commonly referred to as “steps and lanes”).7, 8 The average base salary for full-time public school teachers in 2020–21 can be compared with average base salaries in previous years using a constant dollar adjustment.9 In terms of constant 2020–21 dollars, the average base salary for full-time public school teachers was not measurably different in 2020–21 than in 2011–12.
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics. (2023). Characteristics of Traditional Public, Public Charter, and Private School Teachers; and Characteristics of Public School Teachers. The Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/sld and https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/clr.
Numbers in figure titles reflect original numeration from source Condition of Education indicators.
In 2021, the pupil/teacher ratio in public schools was 15.4, while the ratio in private schools was 12.5. The total pupil/teacher ratio across public and private elementary and secondary schools was 15.0.
|Public and private elementary and secondary school pupil/teacher ratios: Selected years, fall 1970 through fall 2021|
1 Estimated. 2 Projected. 3 Includes imputations for all levels of teachers in Illinois and Utah. 4 Includes imputations for all levels of teachers in Nevada and prekindergarten teachers in California.
NOTE: Data in this table represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The pupil/teacher ratio includes teachers for students with disabilities and other special teachers, while these teachers are generally excluded from class size calculations. Ratios for public schools reflect totals reported by states and differ from totals reported for schools or school districts. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics. (2023, TBA). Table 208.20. Public and private elementary and secondary teachers, enrollment, pupil/teacher ratios, and new teacher hires: Selected years, fall 1955 through fall 2031 [Data table]. In Digest of education statistics. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved TBA, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d22/tables/dt22_208.20.asp.
1 Excludes teachers who taught only prekindergarten. These numbers are based on sample survey data and could differ from those based on other sample surveys or universe surveys. 2 The percentage of private school teachers who were Pacific Islander did not meet reporting standards in 2020–21 and thus is excluded from this analysis. 3 Discussion of teachers’ degrees refers to teachers’ highest level of education attained. 4 Education specialist degrees or certificates are generally awarded for 1 year’s work beyond the master’s level. Includes certificate of advanced graduate studies. 5 Salary data are presented for regular, full-time public school teachers only; the data exclude other staff even when they have full-time teaching duties (regular part-time teachers, itinerant teachers, long-term substitutes, administrators, library media specialists, other professional staff, and support staff). 6 Average base salary is for the school year; summer earnings are not included. Teachers who reported a base salary of zero are excluded. 7 Tran, H., and Buckman, D.G. (2020). The Relationship Between Districts’ Teacher Salary Schedule Structures and the Qualifications of Their Teacher Staffing Profile. Journal of School Administration Research and Development, 5(1), 6–15. 8 Griffith, M. (2016). Policy Analysis: State Teacher Salary Schedules. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.ecs.org/wp-content/uploads/State-Teacher-Salary-Schedules-1.pdf. 9 Constant dollar estimates are based on the Consumer Price Index, prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis.
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