Seattle Culture

Forbes Advisor Gives Washington Teachers an A+

Report ranks Washington state No. 1 for teachers

By Carly Dykes May 14, 2024

A group of children sit in a colorful, educational classroom, laughing, while a teacher reads a picture book to them. It's no wonder a report ranks Washington state No. 1 for teachers—this cheerful scene is a testament to their dedication and the vibrant learning environment they create.

I’ll never forget my ninth-grade art teacher.

Mrs. Pavey let our class spend an entire period discussing how our first finals week as high school students affected our mental health. The pandemic had just started — there was obviously a lot going on. That’s just one highlight of her selflessness and caring demeanor.

That wasn’t that long ago, but I thought of Mrs. Pavey as I came across a report from Forbes Advisor that named Washington the best state for teachers.

Using data from the National Education Association, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau, Forbes analyzed starting and long-term salary, district testing levels, pay gaps, per student spending, enrollment numbers, and relative housing costs.

The average starting salary of a teacher here is more than $52,000, among the highest in the nation. The average annual wage of all teachers is just shy of $82,000, the fifth highest in the U.S. Teacher pensions here are also topnotch.

The pandemic, however, created challenges that still exist. The report found that between 2021 and 2023, the state experienced its highest rate of teacher turnover in 30 years. Nationwide, K-12 educators report the highest rates of burnout in the country. That’s not an insignificant statistic considering that the 3.7 million teachers in the U.S make up 2.5% of the total workforce.

Utah, Minnesota, Virginia, and Massachusetts round out the top 5. Mississippi ranked last, followed by West Virginia and Kentucky.

Teachers often never know where their influence stops. It can last a lifetime.

Thanks to you, Mrs. Pavey, and to numerous other educators who’ve had a profound influence on my life.

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