South Dakota Moves Out of Last Place for Average Teacher Salary


 For Immediate Release 
April 24, 2018

PIERRE – For the first time in over 30 years, South Dakota’s average teacher salary no longer ranks last in the nation according to a recently released report by the National Education Association (NEA). The NEA’s 2018 Rankings & Estimates publication shows South Dakota’s average teacher salary increased by 11.8 percent during the 2016–2017 school year. This is the largest increase by any state. The pay bump moved South Dakota up to 48th place overall in the nation followed by West Virginia, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

South Dakota Education Association (SDEA) President, Mary McCorkle, said the new data clearly reflects the work of Governor Daugaard’s Blue Ribbon Task Force and the impact of the half-penny increase of the state’s sales tax. 

“SDEA welcomes the news this report brings for our teachers and students. The data is evidence the Blue-Ribbon Task Force accomplished one of its main goals, moving the state’s average teacher salary from the bottom of the list,” said McCorkle. “As a state, we were stuck at the bottom for far too long, so moving up means South Dakota is moving in the right direction for teachers and students.” 

McCorkle does caution the report is just a snap-shot in time and without a continued effort to keep moving forward the state could find itself at the bottom once again. 

“We took a big leap forward in 2016, but we can’t let 48th be the place we stop. We must keep moving forward,” said McCorkle. “As the state embarks on the three-year review of the new funding-formula adopted in 2016, I think we can say, based on this report, we did a lot. Now, we must ask what do we need to do to keep the momentum going. Standing still is not an option for our teachers, and it certainly is not an option for our students. We must keep focused on the future.” 

The NEA report provides comparative state data and national averages on a host of important public education statistics, teacher salaries, student enrollment, and revenue and expenditures for the most recent school year. NEA has produced the Rankings and Estimates report for more than 70 years. The complete report can be found at 

SDEA is South Dakota’s largest education professionals’ organization, representing more than 6,000 elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. SDEA is an affiliate of the NEA. 

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