The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently published the latest data from the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), conducted during the 2017–18 school year. It gives us an important snapshot of today’s teaching force in both public and private schools.
The 2017–18 NTPS uses a nationally representative sample of public and private schools. The teacher side of the survey sample includes about 60,000 public school teachers working in 10,600 traditional district and charter public schools and roughly 9,600 private-school teachers working in 4,000 private schools.
The main finding is a portrait: The average American teacher across all school types is non-Hispanic white, around forty years of age, holds a bachelor’s degree, and has at least ten years of experience. She earns in excess of $51,000 per year in base salary, leads a classroom of about twenty-one students, and reports having been evaluated at least once in the last year in a manner that’s had a positive impact on her teaching.
Digging down a bit further, charter school teachers are more racially diverse than those in traditional public schools, which in turn are more diverse than those in private schools. Whites account for 85.1 percent of teachers in private schools, 80 percent in district schools, and 68 percent in charter schools. Just less than 7 percent of all district school teachers are black, and 9.3 percent are Hispanic. However, charter schools have notably higher percentages of teachers who are black (10.4 percent), Hispanic (15.6), Asian (3.0), and mixed-race (2.3) than do their traditional district counterparts (6.5, 9.0, 2.1, and 1.7 percent, respectively). The tenure data reported in the survey includes a caveat that the response rate was very low, and thus the results are not as clear cut as other data. Charter school teachers report having, on average, ten years of experience, as compared to traditional district and private school teachers’ approximately fourteen years of experience.
Twenty-one percent of private school teachers report having additional income from jobs outside their school system during the school year, versus 19 percent of charter school teachers and 17.8 percent of traditional district teachers. Most in both sectors also report earning additional income above their base salary from other within-system sources, largely in the realm of overseeing extracurricular activities. But far more charter school teachers (15.8 percent) report receiving performance bonuses than do their peers in traditional district (7.7 percent) and private (a mere 0.6 percent) schools. A striking 49.2 percent of public school teachers have a master’s degree (49.8 percent for traditional district teachers to 38.6 percent for charter school teachers), while 40 percent of private school teachers have master’s degrees.
For veterans working in education policy, some of the data provided in this snapshot are unsurprising. But they’re important for properly framing a number of ongoing discussions around teacher diversity, educator pay, and differences across the public, private, and charter sectors. Having basic information such as this should help keep such discussions grounded in reality rather than myths.
SOURCE: Soheyla Taie and Rebecca Goldring, “Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Teachers in the United States: Results From the 2017–18 National Teacher and Principal Survey First Look,” National Center for Education Statistics (April 2020).