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Teachers in California received largest average pay increase in the nation last year, report shows

Sarah Favot | July 11, 2017

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California teachers received the largest average pay increase in the nation last year and about four times the national average, according to a new report.

The report, Ranking of the States 2016 and Estimates of School Statistics 2017, was published in May by the National Education Association. It annually tracks trends year over year and compares states on a number of measures including teacher pay, student enrollment, and spending.

Areas where California stood out:

• California teachers in 2016 on average earned $77,179, a 4.2 percent increase from the previous year when the average salary was $74,090. The national average teacher salary increase was 1.3 percent last year. Colorado teachers had the second-highest pay increase last year with a 3.9 percent jump.

• In the 2014-15 school year, California teachers received an average 1.6 percent salary increase from the previous year, ranking 20th in the country.

• California has the second-largest number of teachers, following Texas but ahead of New York. Los Angeles Unified School District with 26,556 teachers is the largest school district in the state.

• California teachers earned the second-highest average salary after New York where teachers earn an average salary of $79,152. The average salary for teachers in the U.S. was $58,353 last year.

NEA officials declined to discuss what might be the reason why California teachers received the largest average pay increase in the country.

In 2016, California ranked 39th in public school revenue per student — $10,484, the same ranking as the previous year, according to the NEA report.

NEA’s data is based on surveys it sends to states’ departments of education. One area that has a lot of variation among different reports is where California ranks on per pupil spending. Each report has different ways of calculating the information. (This FAQ from EdSource helps to explain what accounts for the differences in the data).

California ranked 22nd in per pupil spending — as opposed to per-pupil revenue — with $11,330, dropping one ranking from the previous year and $457 below the national average.

This ranking differs from the California Budget and Policy Center, which reported that California ranked 41st in per-pupil spending for the 2015-16 school year with $10,291.

The differences can be accounted for because different data and methodologies are used in each study.

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