Statewide Study Finds Illinois’ Serious Teacher Shortage Continues to Grow
A statewide study from regional school superintendents found that Illinois’ serious teacher shortage continues to worsen, especially in school districts in central and southern Illinois.
The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, representing the leaders of Regional Offices of Education and Intermediate Service Centers in all 102 Illinois counties, heard from over 500 school districts statewide this fall about teacher shortages.
According to the survey, 89 percent of central Illinois districts and 92 percent of southern Illinois districts have issues with staffing teaching positions with qualified candidates.
The survey also found that superintendents say 20 percent of all open positions for 2018 – more than 1,000 positions – remain unfilled or are filled by an unqualified professional, and 225 classes are being canceled because of shortages
According to the Illinois State Board of Education’s Unfilled Positions report, Champaign/Ford Regional Office of Education #9 (ROE) had 27 unfilled positions from 14 subject areas for school year 2017-2018.
Jane Quinlan, the Superintendent for ROE in Champaign and Ford counties, said special education is the area where the districts she oversees are having the most difficulty filling positions. Foreign language and English as a Second language classrooms are also difficult to find positions to fill.
She said her school districts have been working to combat the issue of teacher shortages.
“I think probably in the short term basis it [the teacher shortage problem] may get worse, but you know on a long term basis, this thing tends to be kind of cyclical. So, hopefully it will get better,” Quinlan said.
One thing she said that has helped is the law that was passed last year allowing retired teachers to return to work without post-retirement limitations in a subject shortage area. She said a few districts in ROE have used this provision.
According to Quinlan, many districts in the region are also having problems with substitute teacher shortages.
However, the Short-Term Substitute Teaching License allowing individuals with an associate’s degree or who have completed 60 semester hours to get a substitute license has helped some of the schools in ROE districts.
According to Quinlan, ROE school districts are also interested in recruiting student teachers, who have had experience working in their schools, for employment.
She said another problem she has seen is that teachers often move from one district in the region to the another either because it is closer to where they live or for a better salary.
Quinlan said another effort ROE school districts have seen success with is programs for new teacher support. Some of the districts have instructional coaches who meet with teachers, and help with classroom management strategies or content specifics.
One of the consequences of these teacher shortages, “may mean that the services the students are receiving are not maybe of the quality that they would be if you had a highly trained person there,” Quinlan said. “And that’s not to say that the people who are filling those positions are not trying to do their very best but there is a level of knowledge that people gain through the process of becoming trained as a teacher.”