Ohio was ranked as the 10th best state for teachers this week by the personal-finance website WalletHub, thanks in part to strong salary and pension data, in a low-cost state.
While WalletHub ranked Ohio between 26th and 39nd in metrics such as quality of state school system, teacher safety and pupil-teacher ratio, Ohio ranked first in average teacher pension and fourth in average salary, when those metrics were adjusted for cost of living.
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In raw numbers, Ohio’s average teacher salary of $58,202 ranked 14th in the nation in the most recent data from the National Education Association. But most of the states in the top 10 (New York was No. 1 at $81,902) were on the East and West Coasts, where costs of living are generally higher.
Eight of the 10 “best states for teachers” overall were the same as WalletHub’s 2017 rankings, with New York staying in the top spot. Hawaii came in last this year, just worse than Arizona.
Ohio fell one position in the rankings from ninth to 10th. Among neighboring states, Pennsylvania was sixth, Kentucky 18th, Michigan 22nd, Indiana 36th and West Virginia 42nd.
WalletHub ranked states based on 22 factors affecting teachers. Thirty percent of the calculation dealt with issues of “academic/work environment.” That includes WalletHub’s own measure of each state’s education system, plus a host of lower-weighted factors including data on student-teacher ratio and evaluation systems, plus survey responses on teacher turnover, administrative support and more.
Various salary measures made up 28 percent of the calculation. Another 14 percent was tied to pension systems, and 14 percent related to job market competition. The last pieces were 7 percent based on enrollment growth and 7 percent on tenure protections.
While WalletHub gives each state a single ranking, Ohio’s 608 school districts vary dramatically in salary scales, job competition, safety and more, meaning the experience of two Ohio teachers can be drastically different.
Ohio’s two large teachers unions, the Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers, did not respond to requests for comment on the WalletHub report.
WalletHub cited data showing about 20 percent of all public school teachers leave their positions before the end of their first year, and nearly half last fewer than five years.
“Education jobs are among the lowest-paying occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree, and teacher salaries consistently fail to keep up with inflation,” the report said.
In all categories, a ranking of 1st would be considered “best for teachers” and a ranking of 51st would be considered “worst for teachers.” The first 11 categories are weighted at 7 points each, the next eight at 2.4 points each, and the last three at 1.2 points each.
Average starting salary** – 21st
Average salary (all teachers)** – 4th
Income growth potential – 26th
10-year change in salaries – 43rd
Average teacher pension** – 1st
New teachers with inadequate pensions – 37th
Projected teacher competition in 2026 – 40th
Public school enrollment growth – 17th
Teacher tenure protections – 6th
Uncertified teachers – 14th
Quality of school system – 27th
Pupil-teacher ratio – 39th
Public school spending per student – 32nd
Projected teacher turnover – 6th
Teacher union strength – 12th
Teacher safety – 28th
Administrative support – 37th
Annual evaluation required – yes
Effectiveness measured – yes
Average commute time – 19th
Childhood disadvantage rate – 31st
Working-mom friendliness – 31st
**-adjusted for local cost of living