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NC ranks near bottom in public education; ranks near top in improvement efforts

Last updated on August 31, 2020

Red blocks are years Republicans were in control and Blue blocks are years Democrats were in control in the majority.

Over the last few years, North Carolina has seen improvements in public education funding and staffing rankings, yet they still remain among the lowest-ranked states in the Nation.

The National Education Association released the 2020 Rankings and Estimates, which shows North Carolina continuing to lag behind in spending for teacher pay in North Carolina.

North Carolina ranks in the bottom percent in terms of teacher pay – ranking 30th out of 50. Despite the low ranking compared to other states, NC has seen improvement in fact, because of recent raises provided to teachers, NC ranks 3rd in terms of teacher increases compared to last year. When compared to the border states of Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, NC ranks #1 in terms of increases to teacher pay over last year.

North Carolina’s estimated average teacher salary for 2019-20 is still more than $9,000 less than the estimated national salary for 2019-2020.

The average classroom teacher salary for 2019‒20 is projected to increase from $62,304 to $63,645. The average teacher pay in NC is projected to increase to just $54,682.

North Carolina’s average teacher pay from 2018-2019 was $53,940, more than $9,000 less than the national average of $62,304.

About Inflation: After inflation, the average classroom teacher salary decreased by an estimated 1.7 percent from 2010‒11 to 2019‒20, while the average salary for instructional staff declined by an estimated 0.7 percent.

Staffing levels for teachers however has seen a slight improvement over the 2018-2019 rankings. NC ranks 11th in the country in terms of the number of teachers in the classroom, which places them 3rd when compared to border states. Staffing levels have slightly increased over the prior year ranking NC 45 in terms of improvement.

The same trend can be seen when looking at salaries for instructional staff, which NC ranks 39th in out of 50. However, due to recent salary increases and bonus opportunities, NC ranks 4th in terms of increases over last year. Overall, NC ranks at the bottom of pay for instructional staff when compared to border states, but did offer the largest pay increase last year.

North Carolina’s average instructional staff salary is projected to be more than $12,000 less than the national projected average for 2019-2020.

The average salary for instructional staff in 2019-20 in NC is projected to be $54,682. The national average is projected to be $66,126 in 2019-20.

North Carolina’s average salary for instructional staff in 2018-2019 was $53,940, more than $10,000 below the national average of $64,545 in 2018-19.

North Carolina ranks 11 out of 50 in terms of the number of instructional staff employed in public schools. When compared to the border states of Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, NC ranks 2nd. Compared to the previous year, NC has seen little increase in instructional staffing levels, placing them 46 in terms of improvement.

Funding for public education in North Carolina is one of the worst in the Nation – with North Carolina ranking 39th overall for per pupil spending. When compared to border states, only Tennessee (45th) ranks lower than NC.

North Carolina’s estimated average per-pupil spending for 2019-20 is still almost $3,000 less than the projected national average for 2019-20. The estimated national average for per-pupil spending in 2019-20 is $13,384. The estimated average per-pupil spending in NC is $10,632.

The national average for per-pupil spending in 2018‒19 based on fall enrollment was $12,978. North Carolina’s per-pupil spending during this time was $10,165.

Nationally, per-pupil spending in fall enrollment is projected to increase to $13,384 in 2019‒20 an increase from 2018‒19’s spending of $12,978.

While North Carolina has a long way to go in terms of improvement, data shows they are on the right track. North Carolina ranks 5th overall in terms of an increase in per pupil spending over last year and significantly outranks border states when looking at funding increase from last school year.

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