Aides added faster than teachers in Connecticut schools

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A shift in the makeup of Connecticut’s instructional staff might explain why educators here saw little growth in compensation over two decades while educators nationwide saw a double-digit increase.

From 1991 to 2011, nationwide spending on instructional staff compensation — including both salaries and benefits — grew from $66,820 to $75,196 per educator in inflation-adjusted “2011 dollars,” according to a June report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. That’s a 12.5 percent increase over two decades. For this analysis, teachers and aides are included but not administrators.

In Connecticut, educator compensation costs grew from $85,229 to $86,971 in 2011 dollars over the same period, according to Trend CT’s state-level analysis of the same data. That’s a 2 percent increase over two decades, far more modest than the nationwide increase.

In addition to looking at the years in the NCES report, Trend CT also looked at the change from 1993 to 2013, the most recent year data available. We found compensation costs went from $89,342 to $89,979. That’s just $637 in 2013 dollars, or 0.7 percent.

(Nationwide over the same period average wages grew 19 percent, from $36,022 to $42,979 in 2011 dollars.)

Aides added at faster rate

From 1991 to 2011, Connecticut’s instructional staff composition diverged from schools nationwide.

In 1991, aides made up 14 percent of instructional staff in Connecticut schools and teachers made up the rest — almost identical to the composition of instructional staff nationwide.

But by 2011, aides made up 25 percent of Connecticut instructional staff and just 18 percent nationwide.

Aides typically earn less than teachers, so Connecticut’s increase in aides explains to some degree why compensation growth was limited for Connecticut educators as a whole. But we can’t say whether that’s the sole explanation, since the data sets used for this analysis do not distinguish between teacher compensation and aide compensation.

Of the 18,128 additional instructional staff that Connecticut schools added from 1991 to 2011, some 9,421 were teachers and 8,706 were aides. There were 5,547 aides in 1991 and 14,253 in 2011, an increase of 157 percent. Teachers, while more numerous grew at a more modest pace: up from 34,383 to 43,804, or 27 percent.

About the data

The NCES report and Trend CT’s analysis are based on an annual survey of states’ education departments. There are separate data sets for the financial topics, such as compensation expenditures, and non-financial topics, such as the count of aides and teachers.

Trend CT confirmed with the Department of Education that the columns “E11” and “E12” were used for salary and benefit figures and “TOTTCH” and “AIDES” were used to calculate the number of instructional staff.

The financial data glossary here defines employee benefit costs as: “Expenditures (200) made in addition to gross salary that are not paid directly to employees. Employee benefits include amounts paid by, or on behalf of, an LEA for retirement contributions, health insurance, Social Security contributions, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation, tuition reimbursements, and other employee benefits.”

The nonfinancial data glossary here describes instructional aides as: “Staff assigned to assist a teacher with routine activities associated with teaching (i.e., activities requiring minor decisions regarding students), such as monitoring, conducting rote exercises, operating equipment, and clerking. Includes only paid staff, and excludes volunteer aides.”

Check our work

The analysis for this story is available on GitHub here. We encourage those who are able and inclined to check our work and use it as a basis for their analysis.

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