Report: Wyoming Best State for Teachers, Most States a Mixed Bag

By Jordan Moeny — October 01, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Looking for a new teaching job? According to a recent WalletHub analysis, head for Wyoming and avoid North Carolina.

The report looked at 18 different metrics, including salary, school safety, student-teacher ratio, and per capita public school spending. Factors in the “Opportunity & Competition” category were weighted higher than those that fall under “Academic & Work Environment.” All fifty states and the District of Columbia were included in the study, which sought to find the “teacher-friendliest” states.

The information was drawn from census data and Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, the National Education Association, the National Center for Educational Statistics, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, and, as well as previous WalletHub studies.

Wyoming took the top spot, likely due to its high annual salary for teachers, high spending on public schools, and low student-teacher ratio. Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Virginia rounded out the top five.

At the bottom of the pack were Hawaii, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Mississippi, with North Carolina coming in last. (Roll over the interactive map below or click through to the full report to see the rest of the rankings.)

Interestingly, what worked for some states didn’t help others. The District of Columbia ranked high on public school spending and student-teacher ratio, just as Wyoming did, but low annual salaries and the worst school system in the country (at least, according to an earlier WalletHub report) pushed the district down to number 20.

Other states found themselves pushed to the middle of the rankings thanks to high marks in one category but not the other. Vermont (#18) came in first place where work environment was concerned, but a rank of 42 for opportunity and competition hurt the overall score. Split scores weren’t uncommon, though; in fact, Wyoming and Massachusetts were the only states to be in the top 10 in both categories.

It’s worth taking the analysis with a grain of salt. The Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss notes that the metrics are lacking some information that teachers might find important:

In the new 'teacher friendly' rankings, here's what's not included: information on whether states have preserved job protections for teachers, or whether teachers are fairly evaluated, or whether under-prepared Teach For America corps members are replacing veteran teachers, or the overall impact of corporate-based school reform on the teaching profession."

The study also doesn’t provide access to the full dataset. WalletHub lists the top and bottom five states for a small handful of the metrics, but the rest of their information remains inaccessible for users hoping to take a closer look at the rankings.

The report is more detailed than other recent studies that look only at teacher pay, but given the vast differences between districts and even schools, it’s probably safe to say that no ranking is guaranteed to pinpoint the best place in the country for a teacher on the move.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.