A new report explores and costs out strategies the United States can use to recruit more of its teaching force from among the top third of college graduates.
Researchers from McKinsey & Co., a New York City-based marketing research firm, draw lessons from Finland, Singapore, and South Korea, three high-achieving countries that recruit all their teachers from the top third of the academic-talent pool. By contrast, top achievers account for 23 percent of all new teachers in this country and just 14 percent of those in high-poverty schools.
In Finland, Singapore, and South Korea, admission to teacher-training programs is highly selective; some countries also pay would-be teachers’ tuition or give them a salary or a stipend while they train. Those three governments monitor demand for teachers and regulate the supply to match it. Teaching is a prestigious career in those countries, and teachers are paid competitive wages, the report says.
To make U.S. teacher salaries competitive with those of other careers open to top students would mean paying teachers around $65,000 to $150,000 a year, the report says. That would cost $100 million to $290 million, including current teachers, for a large urban district and $630 million for an average state.
For about $66 million a year, a state could more than double the percentage of academically talented teachers in high-need schools with a strategy that includes tuition waivers, effective principals, safe and up-to-date schools, hefty merit-pay bonuses, and better marketing.
A version of this article appeared in the September 29, 2010 edition of Education Week as Study Weighs Strategies For Attracting ‘Top Third’