AEFP 45th Annual Conference

Toward a Meaningful Impact through Research, Policy & Practice

March 19-21, 2020

Teacher Salary Gaps in California Before and After the Local Control Funding Formula.

Dylan Hawksworth-Lutzow, University of California Davis,

With the end of the Great Recession and the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), California school districts saw increases in funding and the reduction of funding restrictions. Although revenue in all districts has increased, the LCFF directs substantially more revenue to districts with high rates of student poverty. Specifically, supplemental funding is provided to districts based on the unduplicated count of their students who participate in the Free or Reduced-Price Lunch program, who are English Learners, or who are foster youth. (The correlation between this unduplicated count and the percent of students on the Free or Reduced-Price Lunch program is 0.95.) This paper investigates whether the LCFF’s increase in funding in high-poverty districts led to higher teacher salaries in those districts. Specifically, this paper analyzes whether teacher salaries at specific cells in the salary schedule grew more in high-poverty districts that received LCFF funding compared to low-poverty districts that did not receive the additional LCFF funds.
This paper uses the California Department of Education’s J90 Teacher Salary data to determine what a teacher with specific combinations of education and experience would earn in nearly every one of California’s 1,000 school districts. To represent the salary of a new teacher, we focus on what a teacher with a Bachelor’s degree (BA) plus 30 units but no experience would earn in every district. For a mid-career teacher, we focus on two cells: the cell representing a BA+60 additional units and 10 years of experience as well as the cell representing what a teacher with a Master’s degree plus 30 units and 10 years of experience. For a veteran teacher, we focus on the cell representing what a teacher would earn with 20 years of experience and a BA+90 units of additional education. If a district does not contain the specific cell we want, we use the salary at the cell where a teacher with the specified combination of education and experience would be placed in that district.
We use a difference-in-difference strategy to compare how the salaries at these four specific cells increased in high-poverty districts, compared to low-poverty districts, from 2007-08 to 2015-16. This time span captures the spending growth from California’s pre-recession high point to the point at which the LCFF was nearly fully implemented. High poverty districts are those with rates of students eligible for the Free or Reduced-Price Lunch Program between 76.52% to 100% and low 0% to 40.9%; each group enrolls about 25% of students in the state.
Preliminary results indicate that across the board, teacher salaries at all three salary schedule cells are increasing for both high and low-poverty districts. However, high-poverty district salaries are only marginally rising more so than their low-poverty district counterparts. For example, teachers with a BA and 60 additional units earned roughly $4,345 less in high poverty districts in 2007-08 and $3,512 less in 2015-16. Although the salary gaps in each year are significant at the 1% level, the change in the gaps between these two years is not significant, suggesting that high-poverty districts are not closing the pay gap with the LCFF funding. In contrast, however, veteran teachers in high-poverty districts did experience a marginally significant decrease in their pay gap relative to low-poverty districts during the same time span.
Focusing on these specific cells across districts allows for an apples-to-apples style comparison of teacher salary schedules. If we were to compare changes in expenditures on salaries across districts, those would be influenced by the salary schedule cells, the actual combination of education and experience teachers in the district have, and the number of teachers in the district. Our paper will also decompose the changes in the overall salary expenditures into changes in these three component parts over the 2007-08 to 2015-16 time period. Finally, as more data have become available since we began this project, and we find it likely that the additional years of increased funding may have impacted district spending patterns, we are in the process of updating our results to include an end point of 2017-18.
The Local Control Funding Formula may have had some impact in reducing the disparity of teacher salaries between high and low poverty districts, however this relationship in the years 2007-08 to 2015-16 is not significant for most teacher salary schedule cells we evaluate. Our hope is that additional years of data might demonstrate solidified district spending patterns that further explain the effects of the LCFF.



I find your research very interesting and am glad you plan to continue your analysis as new data comes out. It would be interesting to see what the student to teacher ratio in different SES districts was following the implementation of LCFF as compared to pre-LCFF.

I found incredibly interesting your finding that salary gaps between high-poverty and low-poverty districts only narrowed for late career teachers. Would be worth discussing why union dynamics can lead to that result. Also, would be interesting to speculate on the implications of this result for the potential for the LCFF to close achievement gaps.

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