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As it turns out, based on international test scores, Israeli students are not quite among the people of the book, or the calculator, or the periodic table of elements. This matters because figuring out how to improve student performance and increase their participation in more challenging fields would help economic performance.
Increasing teacher salaries would help students. There is significant evidence of a connection between teacher pay and student performance with one study crediting a 5-10% increase in student test scores to a 5% increase in teacher salary. Intuitively, this makes sense, as higher pay would attract and retain better teachers. More importantly, I’m married to a teacher and would like to purchase a jet ski. So let’s look at the numbers (some fun charts at the end).
The good news is that there has been a major increase in teacher pay since 2005, which has led to the biggest recent pay increase for teachers in the OECD. However, they currently make about 80-88 cents to the dollar of similarly educated full time workers in other fields. In terms of annual average salaries including bonuses, we see that Israeli teachers still make far less in both lower school and upper school than their OECD counterparts. As for hours worked, pre-primary and primary teachers work more than their OECD counterparts while secondary teachers work fewer.
One simple way to improve teacher pay would be to change the ratio of full time to part time teachers. According to a 2010 Taub center study, almost half of education employees work part time compared to 20% in the OECD. A 2014 TALIS study produced very different numbers, but a similar trend of 27% of Israeli teachers working part time, compared to about 17% within the OECD. If Israeli schools would let go the 6% of teachers working less than half time and hired full time teachers in their stead, salaries would rise and the full time teachers could be around the school more, helping the education system, while costs would remain stable.
So how bout it? Lets give teachers more cash, prepare the future and buy me some more toys.