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Overseas Schools Attract Top Graduates

U.S. Graduates

Countries with top-performing schools and students — think Singapore, Finland, and South Korea — have something in common. One hundred percent of their teachers are recruited from the top third of college graduates, according to a new study, Education Week reports. The report, by management consultants McKinsey & Co., notes that only 23 percent of U.S. teachers come from the top third of graduates, and that figure sinks to 14 percent in high-poverty areas.

Salaries are certainly a big part of the reason, the story says. The national average for teacher pay in America ranges from $39,000 to $67,000. In New York, a starting teacher can earn $45,000, but a newly-minted lawyer will take home $160,000. Salaries in top-performing countries are more robust. In South Korea, the range is $55,000 to $155,000. Teachers in those countries also have more prestige, McKinsey says. In Finland, only one in 10 applicants to education schools area accepted. In the U.S., more than half of teachers graduate from universities with low — in some cases, very low — admissions standards, the story says.

The McKinsey consultants also suggest ways to bring more top academics into the profession. The simplest, most efficient solution? Big bucks. Pay scales that range from $65,00 to $150,000, they say, would boost recruitment among top-tier graduates to 68 percent. However, Education Week quotes Yong Zhao, an education expert at Michigan State University, as saying the McKinsey report’s methodology is weak, and it makes comparisons that are unfair.

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