Over the last four years, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has addressed teacher shortage issues through legislative and regulatory changes. Still, some school districts continue to struggle to staff classrooms.
In response, in September 2017 ISBE launched Teach Illinois, a yearlong initiative building off of work already taking place in Illinois. Through Teach Illinois stakeholders sought to better understand staffing challenges facing school districts in order to identify and craft policy solutions in response to those challenges.
As part of Teach Illinois, a partnership between ISBE and the Joyce Foundation, state board officials conducted over 40 focus group sessions and heard from more than 400 teachers, parents, students, principals, superintendents, college of education deans and other partners.
Challenges identified included the problems recruiting teachers faced by rural and high-poverty urban districts. Also discussed were encouraging practices and thoughtful policy ideas about licensure, teacher leadership and teacher diversity.
Illinois, like many states, is struggling to ensure the state has a highly effective, diverse teaching corps to fill its classrooms. Far too many bilingual, special education, rural and high-poverty classrooms lack a trained educator. If Illinois is to ensure all students are college-and-career ready, it must ensure every student has access to effective teachers.
In response, ISBE will work with partners across Illinois to advance the following policy recommendations:
- Coordinate a statewide campaign to elevate the teaching profession and inspire young people, especially those of color, to join the profession.
- Incentivize and create opportunities for P12 and postsecondary institutions to work together to create streamlined pathways into the teaching profession.
- Support partnerships between school districts and teacher preparation programs in order to closely align teacher supply and demand.
- Develop innovative, results-based approaches to educator preparation.
- Develop and adopt a research-based bar for licensure that leads to a highly effective and diverse workforce.
- Promote teacher leadership and career pathways with differentiated responsibilities and appropriate incentives.
- Develop robust teacher mentorship and induction programs.