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NIEER Research Spotlights Pay Gaps for Public Pre-K Teachers

April 27, 2017
Economics and FinanceWorkforce
School Planning & Management

While most publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs require teachers to have the same credentials as kindergarten teachers, few require equivalent pay and benefits for pre-K teachers compared to kindergarten teachers, according to new research released today by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Teacher Compensation Parity Policies and State Funded Pre-K Programscompares teacher compensation in state-funded pre-K programs, based on data collected for the 2015 State of Preschool Yearbook.  This report, by NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett Ph.D., and Research Project Coordinator Richard Kasmin, focuses on teachers in public pre-K programs serving about 1.8 million children.  Our report does not cover private preschool programs that are not part of state-funded pre-K.

NIEER’s analysis showed public pre-K programs in 24 states–more than half of the 44 states funding pre-K–have no compensation parity policies for teachers.  Generally, pre-K teachers with a bachelor’s degree or higher can expect to earn $10,000–$13,000 less per year than colleagues teaching slightly older children, even if they work in the same building. Download the report

“Efforts to improve preschool teacher qualifications will largely be in vain until the problem of inadequate compensation and lack of parity with kindergarten and the primary grades is addressed,” Dr. Barnett said.