Wallet Hub Ranking More of a Wallet Flub

As I mentioned in an earlier article, ‘Wallet Hub’ has produced its second education related ranking list.  The first Wallet Hub ranking list came out last year and was full of holes, this one is no different.

Terry Stoops at John Locke has an opening first shot at this ‘ranking’ list.  Here’s an excerpt with emphasis added, but go read the whole thing:

“The first six data points are used to determine the “Job Opportunity & Competition” portion.  The next seven are used for the “Academic & Work Environment” portion.  North Carolina ranked 50th on the former and 34th on the latter, which combined magically to produced an overall rank of 50 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia.  (The decision to compare states to a city is a curious one.)

But it is pretty apparent that North Carolina fares reasonably well on most indicators, considering that a number of recent efforts to raise teacher pay are not represented in the data used (because data collection understandably lags).  The most interesting aspect of the ranking is that North Carolina earned a rank of 50 out of 51 despite that fact that only two of the 13 indicators come anywhere close to the bottom.

Yeah, using that Common Core math are we, Wallet Hub?

Here’s the first line item of the data sent to me:

STATE Average Starting Salary for Teachers
(adjusted for cost of living)

North Carolina Results: $31,894
North Carolina Ranks: 40
Sources: National Education Association Years 2012-2013 & 2014

I can tell you that this first line item is probably wrong just based on the outdated sources used. Some went back to 2011. All listed were just the source such as Census or NEA, but no link to the actual data set they used.  That’s, um, really helpful.

For example, for the above first line item, Wallet hub cited the ‘NEA for 2012-13 and 2014’.

The NEA has a 2012-13 starting teacher salary ranking chart showing $30,778 as the starting salary that year. But the NEA’s 2014 average starting salary chart isn’t out yet.

So what was Wallet Hub referring to when they cite NEA 2014? Were they using portions of the NEA’s ‘2014 Ranking and 2015 Estimates‘?  We have no idea. They didn’t tell me or link to the source document as I requested.

Why not use the actual number of $33,000 directly from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s 2014-15 salary guide?  Too easy?

Also remember, that $33,000 isn’t the final compensation. Each district is responsible for adding supplemental pay to these salaries.

Conveniently for the ‘war on education’ narrative Superintendent Atkinson keeps trying to drive, DPI no longer publishes the supplemental salary schedules. That’s ok though, I took the data sets they directed me to and made one. Converting it to a PDF made it fuzzy, email me if you want a cleaner spreadsheet version.

TommyLee ReallyWallet Hub didn’t include their ‘cost of living’ formula when I asked, but they did communicate to me that to calculate cost of living they, “consulted the cost of living index here: https://www.coli.org/ via the Council for Community and Economic Research.

So, I went to the site.

You can only get state by state comparison data if you pay for it.  The only tool open for general use is city by city comparison.

It is unknown if Wallet Hub used city by city or state by state since their methodology used was as vague as one can imagine. If they used the city by city one, then the number they came out with is frankly useless in a ‘state ranking’ scenario.

Old data, vague data sources, no idea what formula’s they used for anything  – one has to conclude this ‘Best and Worst’ list has about the same integrity as a drinking straw being used for indoor plumbing.

Wallet Hub? Try Wallet Flub.


About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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