TABLE 2-1 Trends in Teacher Salaries Compared with Average Annual Salaries of Selected White-Collar Occupations, 1999


Accountant III

Buyer/ Contract Specialist III

Attorney III

Computer Systems Analyst III

Engineer IV

Full Prof. Public Doctoral

Assistant Prof. Public Comprehensive










SOURCE: Adapted from (January 29, 2002).

The committee takes the position that qualified teachers are the backbone of both high-quality advanced study programs and the gateway courses leading to advanced study. Consequently, teacher shortages in mathematics and science and the dearth of teachers willing to teach in high-poverty and rural areas have implications for both access to and the quantity and the quality of advanced study programs available to students across the country. Education policy experts agree with this appraisal and suggest that government agencies, colleges and universities, and school districts initiate and support efforts to attract and retain qualified teachers in specific subjects and for particular geographic regions (National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century, 2000; National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future [NCTAF], 1996; NRC, 2000a).

Attracting the number of new teachers needed to the profession and retaining current teachers is a major challenge for the nation. In addition, given the challenges teachers face in the classroom (as discussed later in this chapter), the United States has not been willing to compensate teachers at levels comparable to those of people in other professions with similar levels of education, training, and expertise. The AFT reports that beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $25,700 in the 1997–1998 school year; those with a master’s degree earned slightly more. The estimated average salary of all public elementary and secondary school teachers during the 1998–1999 school year was $40,574 (AFT, 2001). This salary is considerably less than that earned by other white-collar professionals (see Table 2-1).


Preparing for Advanced Study: Middle Schools

Academic preparation for advanced study begins in middle school. However, middle schools face a number of factors that compromise their ability to impart to as many students as possible the desire and preparation necessary to aspire to advanced study.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement