Earlier this fall, the Education Writer's Association invited me to lead a session for their members about key data points reporters can mine to inform their coverage of the teaching profession. I spoke about publicly available data, particularly from state-run teacher pension plans. While much of that data is buried in long pdf files called "Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports," the reports contain answers to a number of questions that reporters frequently confront in their coverage. I highlighted four main lines of inquiry:
- School spending: How is education spending changing in my state, overall and across broad allocation categories?
- Pension contributions: How are contributions changing over time?
- Educator salaries: How much are educators paid, and how is that changing over time? How fast are salaries growing today versus in the past?
- Educator turnover rates: What are the turnover and retention rates for educators? Are there differences by gender, between different professions, or over time?
Since the meeting took place in Illinois, I chose to provide examples from the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) of Illinois and other comparisons within the state, but reporters can find similar data in their own states. See my slides below:
For anyone having trouble finding these data for their state, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.