Are teachers at Niles West and Niles North high schools in Cook County twice as valuable as teachers in Peoria County’s Princeville High School?
Not according to data from the Illinois State Board of Education. Princeville, in fact, had just 1.4 percent less students meet or exceed state standards in math on the SAT last spring than did Niles North. Niles North had 51.4 percent of its students at least meet standards in math, while Princeville had 50 percent of its students hit the benchmark in math.
However, the average teacher’s salary in Niles Township District 219 is $113,569, more than double the $56,600 average salary in Princeville Community Unit District 326. Princeville’s salary figures are skewed a little downward because the unit district includes elementary school teachers, who typically make about $10,000 less than their high school peers. However, even tacking $10,000 onto the average Princeville teacher’s salary for the elementary-high school difference, the high school’s teachers are still just at 59 percent of the average Niles Township teacher’s paycheck.
An analysis of public high schools in the Chronicle readership area shows that teachers’ salaries are not always a guarantee of student success.
Of the 29 public high schools in the Chronicle’s readership area with teacher salaries averaging more than $100,000, less than half of them (14) had SAT scores in the top 20 for their respective county.
However, higher average teachers’ salaries did contribute to success in many high schools outside of the Chicago area. More than half of the nine Chronicle counties outside of the Collar Counties with the highest average teachers’ salaries also were the leaders in students meeting or exceeding state standards on the Scholastic Achievement Test.
Achieving the highest number of students meeting standards with the highest average pay for teachers in the county were:
- Kaneland (DeKalb County) – 48.7 percent of students hitting standards with teachers averaging $65,241.
- Oswego District 308 (Kendall County) – 47.7 percent of students meeting standards with teachers averaging $61,939. (Note: Joliet public high schools – not in the Chronicle circulation area – have higher average teacher salaries, but Oswego’s test scores are still tops for the county.)
- Washington (Tazewell County) – 51.3 percent of students hitting state benchmarks with teachers averaging $57,145.
- Hononegah (Winnebago County) – 58 percent of students meeting standards with teachers averaging $72,407.
- Metamora (Woodford County) – 58 percent of students hitting SAT benchmarks with teachers making an average of $65,691.
Half of the four Collar Counties in the Chronicle circulation area had the same high school at the top of both the average teacher’s pay and students hitting state standards:
- Deerfield (Lake County) – 77.7 percent of students reaching state standards with teachers averaging $110,757. (Note: Deerfield, which also draws students from Cook County, was the sixth-highest achieving school in Cook and the top-scoring Cook high school outside of Chicago. Three other school districts in Cook County top the average salary of Deerfield teachers.)
- Cary-Grove (McHenry County) – 59.8 percent of students hitting standards with teachers averaging $89,382.
Two schools in the Chronicle circulation area had the dubious distinction of having the highest average teachers’ salary in their county, but being close to the bottom in county rankings for student achievement.
- Fenton (DuPage County) had the highest average teacher salaries in DuPage, but was tied for third worst of 30 schools in the county for students meeting state standards. The average Fenton teacher netted $102,960, but just 29.7 percent of the Bensenville school’s students met state standards.
- Heyworth (McLean County) recorded the highest average teacher salaries in McLean but had the second-worst numbers for student performance. The average McLean teacher made $60,848, but only 36.2 percent of the school’s students met standards on the SAT.
Open the Books, a government watchdog organization, notes that there are 18,975 public school teachers and administrators in Illinois who made more than $100,000 in 2016.
Despite the number of teachers and administrators earning six figures in the state, a study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign contends that Illinois public school teachers are not overpaid.
“Public school teachers in Illinois are highly skilled and are compensated accordingly through competitive salaries,” the report states.
The report, authored by Jill Manzo, Robert Bruno and Frank Manzo IV, and published earlier this year notes that 62 percent of full-time public elementary, middle and secondary school teachers in the state have earned master’s degrees.
The authors noted that private and nonprofit sector workers with a bachelor’s degree earn more than $76,000, more than $11,000 more than the average public school teacher in the state.
“Full-time public K-12 teachers in Illinois earn less than highly educated workers in Illinois’ private and nonprofit sector,” the report stated.
— Teacher salary levels don’t always match school performance —