Minnesota scores lower on teaching attractiveness compared to neighboring states

Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin are all more appealing states to teach in compared to Minnesota, according to an analysis by the left-leaning Learning Policy Institute. (And how telling: They are all states where teachers’ unions aren’t as influential!)

The Learning Policy Institute’s recent state-by-state study uses 19 key indicators influencing teacher supply and demand to calculate a state’s “teaching attractiveness” rating — including measures of compensation (adjusted for cost-of-living), working conditions, school resources, teacher qualifications, and teacher turnover and hiring.


On a “least attractive” to “most attractive” quintile, Minnesota’s teaching attractiveness rating comes in at a 3.0, according to the Learning Policy Institute’s calculations. This is lower than all of its neighbors — North Dakota received a 3.9 rating, Iowa at 3.5, Wisconsin at 3.4, and South Dakota at 3.3.

Below are a handful of the indicators that were used to calculate this rating and where Minnesota and its neighboring states fall within those factors.

Starting salary

Minnesota’s starting salary is reported in the analysis at $42,930 (adjusted for cost-of-living differences), earning it a 4 out of 5 along the teaching attractiveness quintile and putting the state slightly higher than the U.S. starting salary at $42,850.

North Dakota ($45,420), South Dakota ($45,340), and Iowa ($43,410) came in with higher starting salaries, all adjusted for cost-of-living differences, with Wisconsin’s just shy of Minnesota’s at $42,850.

Working conditions:
Collegiality & Mentoring for early-career teachers

A higher percentage of Wisconsin teachers strongly agree that “there is a great deal of cooperative effort among the staff members” compared to Minnesota teachers, as measured by the National Teacher and Principal Survey. In this same survey, a high percentage (92 percent) of Wisconsin teachers within their first five years of teaching reported having a mentor assigned by their school or district in their first year of teaching compared to 70.6 percent in Minnesota. Among Minnesota and its neighbors, Iowa teachers reported the highest percent who receive early-career mentoring at 95.8 percent.

Classroom autonomy

A similar percentage of Minnesota and Wisconsin teachers (51.8 percent and 51.6 percent, respectively) reported having “a great deal of control” in their classroom when it comes to textbooks, class materials, content and skills to be taught, evaluation of students, homework, etc. South Dakota educators edged both states out with 53.9 percent reporting such control.

School Resources:
Pupil-to-teacher ratio

While North Dakota’s pupil-to-teacher ratio in public schools was the lowest among Minnesota and its neighbors at 12.3 : 1, Wisconsin edged out Minnesota with a lower student-teacher ratio (13.7 : 1 to 15.6 : 1, respectively.)

Teacher turnover and hiring:
Plan to leave teaching

Out of Minnesota and its neighboring states, more Minnesota teachers reported planning to leave teaching as soon as they can or when a more desirable job opportunity comes along (10.1 percent). Iowa educators were the least likely to plan to leave teaching, with 7.3 percent reporting so.

School vacancies unfilled or hard to fill

Fewer Wisconsin schools found they could not fill a vacancy or that it was difficult to fill a teacher vacancy compared to Minnesota (43.1 percent to 44.7 percent) and Minnesota’s neighbors.


While this state-by-state analysis offers only a snapshot of data regarding the teaching profession, it is worth considering how this information paired with changes to professional standards for teachers, burdensome mandates placed upon educators, etc. will impact Minnesota’s future attractiveness rating and its teacher workforce.