A note on using average salaries to understand relative teacher pay. Average salaries are often more a measure of average teacher education levels and experience than of pay. The vast majority of school districts use a salary schedule defined by “steps and lanes” to determine teacher pay, meaning that teachers get more money for each year they teach (“steps”) and for having higher levels of educational attainment (“lanes”). The table below tells us that, on average, teachers in the following 5 districts have the highest pay in the state. However, it could be just as true that the average teacher in Boulder is more experienced and has a higher level of education than in any other district in the state– i.e. the average teacher in Boulder is on a higher step and lane than the average teacher in another district. (Also important, but different information!) What would be a better measure is to compare average salaries of similar teachers. For example, where does a 3rd year teacher make the most money? A 15 year veteran with two masters degrees? Unfortunately the state does not collect this data, making real salary comparisons all but impossible, at a significant detriment to advocates who would like to see better teacher pay across the state.
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