Do countries paying teachers higher relative salaries have higher student mathematics achievement?

Author(s): Brodziak, Iliana; Loyalka, Prashant; Luschei, Thomas; Carnoy, Martin; Beteille, Tara

Publisher(s): International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement

Date: 2009

Pages: 180 p.


In this publication, the authors compare the salaries of primary (Grades 1 to 6 in most countries) and secondary school (usually Grades 7 to 12) teachers with the salaries of people in mathematics-oriented professions, such as engineering, scientific fields, and accounting. Their analysis centers on a number of developed and developing countries. They also look at the relationship between what mathematics teachers are paid and the mathematics scores of Grades 8 and 10 students on mathematics tests associated with the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The results of this analysis suggest that student performance is positively and statistically significantly related to relative teacher salaries in the case of male (but not female) teachers, even when controlling for GDP (gross domestic product) per capita and income distribution. The authors discuss these results and how they might inform continued research on the effect that paying higher relative salaries to teachers potentially has on student mathematics performance. The authors caution that the results are essentially suggestive, not causal. As they point out in the conclusions, there are several possible reasons for the correlation between teachers' relative pay and higher student performance, only one of which is that higher teacher pay draws individuals with higher mathematics skills into teaching, thereby resulting in better student performance.

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