Illinois State Board of Education proposal to fix teacher shorta - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Illinois State Board of Education proposal to fix teacher shortage

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VIENNA, Ill. -- State education leaders are considering relaxing the requirements to become a teacher in Illinois, in hopes of filling more than a thousand empty teaching positions. 

Last year, more than 1,400 teaching positions were left vacant in the state of Illinois. 

But now the Illinois State Board of Education is trying to help the student/teacher ratio and for some school districts like Vienna, it's an issue that really hits home. 

Vienna Superintendent Joshua Stafford, like most districts, is dealing with a shortage of teachers. 

"We used to be able to advertise a position and we would have more than 80 applicants for a teaching position in Johnson County and in the last year, we are very fortunate to have six or seven," Stafford said.

Rebecca Guest has been teaching English at Vienna High School for 15 years. She says she can tell they need more teachers based on the number of students she has this year.

"My classes are pretty large this year, my largest is 29 and my smallest is 18, most of the classes average around 25," Guest said, "This year I have 150 students and that's the most that I've ever had in my teaching career."

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony Smith blames the problem on the lack of funding.

"Inequity in funding has really created the conditions where there is a critical shortage of teachers in Illinois," Smith said.

But how does the state make it more appealing to become a teacher in Illinois? Guest believes one place to start is by making it easier to become a teacher. 

"For some people that wanted to go into teaching and then they get to the end of their college experience and maybe they have problems passing one of the test or have difficulty with the assessments," Guest explains, "And then they are kind of stuck there until they are able to pass that test."

Smith said one of the strategies the Illinois State Board of Education is considering is taking out some of the testing needed to become licensed. 

"Now we have this other assessment that has had the impact where there is a difference in the pass rates of the test takers," Smith said.

The ISBE has proposed a seven-point strategy:

  1. Coordinate a statewide campaign to elevate the teaching profession and inspire young people, especially those of color, to join the profession
  2. Incentivize and create opportunities for preschool to 12 and post-secondary institutions to work together to create streamlined pathways into the teaching profession
  3. Support partnerships between school districts and teacher preparation programs in order to closely align teacher supply and demand
  4. Develop innovative, results-based approaches to educator preparation
  5. Develop and adopt a research-based bar for licensure that leads to a highly effective and diverse workforce
  6. Promote teacher leadership and career pathways with differentiated responsibilities and appropriate incentives
  7. Develop robust teacher mentorship and induction programs

The ISBE will discuss their seven-point strategy at their October 17 meeting. Smith said the proposal is currently open for public comment until October 2. 

Click here to view the proposal. You can click here to submit a comment to the ISBE.

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