Vol.#47: Education Infographic Inferences

I learned last week that communicating data via an infographic is a power not to be wielded lightly. The ongoing feedback in the comments had me repeatedly changing and re-editing numbers and phrasing. For example, at the bottom teachers work “more than others” became “more than full-time” because so many commenters seemed to be taking it as a personal judgement on how much they did or did not work in their own jobs.

Back in July, I’d gotten quite a lot of feedback (almost 200 comments) about the infographic on the data of the change in average teaching salaries over a decade, so I wondered: what about an infographic on just the average teachers’ salaries per state? What would that information look like?

The most recent data I found was from 2012, and as I created the high-to low list, I thought I also saw a pattern on how states voted during that same year’s presidential election.

I color-coded the infographic according to those results:


I thought about how NCAE almost always supports the democratic candidate, and I found those who “stood out” like Alaska and New Mexico very interesting. Also, I wondered how much of the “average salary” was higher from retention of experienced teachers (particularly abysmal in my own state of North Carolina) or other factors outside of education specifically, such as the general cost-of-living. For example, even though Hawaii is in the top half of the states for a teacher’s average salary, according to at least one source the “comfort index” on that salary is actually the lowest in the nation due to how expensive it is to live there.

What do you infer from this data?


4 thoughts on “Vol.#47: Education Infographic Inferences”

  1. I wondered why you difnt adjust for the cost of living. People usually make more money in New York than they do in Georgia, for example. The cost of living is wildly different state to state, so your infographic is an inadvertent example of “how to lie with statistics.”


    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your comment. If I’d titled it, “Best states for teachers to live” that would be a lie. The infographic tells you exactly what it is (percent of national average) and doesn’t claim to be something else. What you’re taking about is in the interpretation of the data and it’s possible causes, not the data itself.

      The post that accompanies this infographic discussed the cost of living as one contributing factor. My example was Hawaii. I don’t think cost of living is the only factor at work, but that’s my interpretation. How about you?



  2. Is there any chance Puerto Rico could be added to the info graphic? Teacher salaries start at $17,000 per year and their retirement was recently reduced by the senate from a 75% retirement to a 60% . I would love to share that with my many followers.


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