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More and more school districts around Illinois are finding it harder to fill teaching positions and find qualified candidates for the teaching positions they are able to fill, according to a newly released survey from Illinois’ regional superintendents of schools.
The Teacher Shortage Survey, developed by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS) and conducted at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, found:

  • 60 percent of Illinois school districts responding report trouble filling teaching positions
  • 75 percent of those districts are seeing fewer qualified candidates than in past years, with the numbers much higher in rural districts and in central and northwest Illinois
  • 16 percent of schools have had to cancel programs or classes because of teacher shortages with particular problems in special education, reading/English/language arts, and math and science.

Jeff Vose, the Regional Superintendent of Schools for Regional Office of Education No. 51 covering Sangamon and Menard counties and president of IARSS, said the survey results help give education officials statewide a better sense of the problem they knew was developing but couldn’t quite substantiate.
 “With this survey, we now have some solid data and more detailed information. We hope this will jump start the conversation,” Vose said. “We want to work with local school districts, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Governor’s office and legislators to address this growing crisis.”

The regional superintendents surveyed all three types of school districts – elementary districts, high school districts and unit districts (which contain both elementary and secondary schools). The data showed that staffing shortages are particularly problematic for secondary schools with 80 percent of high school districts and 87 percent of unit school districts noticing fewer quality candidates applying for positions.

In an analysis of the survey, the report identified a combination of factors contributing to the teacher shortage, including: educators leaving Illinois, educators leaving the profession, fewer students enrolling in teacher training programs, out-of-state educators unwilling to relocate to Illinois and out-of-state educators who would be willing to relocate but are unable to meet the state’s licensure mandates without substantial delays and meeting additional requirements.

The survey analysis also highlighted five areas of critical concern:
·         Simplify and expedite processes for applicants;
·         Expand reciprocity that more closely matches other states’ requirements when comparable to Illinois;
·         Enhance Illinois recruitment of in-state and out-of-state candidates;
·         Modify regulations to support educators as professionals; and
·         Explore possible alternative routes to licensure and/or obtaining endorsements not currently available.

The Teacher Shortage Survey was developed by (IARSS) and conducted between August 25 and Sept. 2, 2015. The survey results were submitted to Goshen Education Consulting, Inc. for the survey analysis. The survey was completed by 62 percent of the school districts in the state, or 538 districts. The survey had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent and a confidence level of 99 percent.

The full survey can be found here on the IARSS website: http://iarss.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/IllinoisTeacherShortage_12-10-15_kd-2.pdf