Teacher Pensions Blog

The following resource is designed to help teachers, reporters, policymakers, or anyone interested in learning more about teacher pensions. If you have additional questions that are not answered here, please contact us teacherpensions@bellwethereducation.org. We will continually update this page to help our readers. 

  • What is the average teacher pension? Here is our state-by-state chart, or more detailed looks at the average teacher pension in Illinois and California. Keep in mind that simple averages often don’t tell the whole picture.
  • How generous is my state’s pension plan compared with others? To see how your state compares, see how much your state is spending on teacher retirement benefits. 
  • Where can I learn more about a particular state or municipalities’ pension plan? How much do teachers contribute, what’s their cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), when do teachers need to retire? To find more information about pension plan components, check out your state's teacher pension plan website, browse through the TeacherPensions.org state pages, or scan the Urban Institute's State of Retirement Report Card. 
  • How much do teacher pension plans cost?  Check out the Public Fund Survey to examine funding levels, assets, liabilities, and other related information for the nation’s largest pension systems from 2001 to present. To see how much teacher pension plans costs by state, see here or see our report on the "Pension Pac-Man" for how pension spending translates for the average teacher. 
  • Where can I learn more about pension reform options and possible solutions? Read this handbook from the Reason Foundation to get a primer on possible options. Pension reform need not be limited to just a 401k-style plan and there are number of other alternatives for policymakers to consider. 
  • Where do I find more information on teacher retention in each state? State and municipal pension plans hold a wealth of data on their members, including calculations and projectios on teacher retention rates. This report from TeacherPensions.org and Bellwether Education Partners uses actuarial assumptions to estimate teacher turnover rates in every state. See this compiled chart from NCES' Schools and Staffing Survey for data on teacher experience levels in your state. For nationwide trends in teacher retention and turnover, see this post, or this post on how the teaching workforce is simultaneously older but less experienced
  • Which teachers receive Social Security, and why do some states not participate? For more information on teachers and Social Security, see this TeacherPensions.org report. Over 1 million teachers do not participate in Social Security and are concentrated in 15 states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas and the District of Columbia. See here for a quick history and explanation for why teachers don’t participate.

Last updated on 3/9/2020.