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 more than 500 school districts statewide this
fall on teacher shortages around the state.
The survey found:
percent of districts identified a major or minor problem with
teacher shortages in their schools, up from 78 percent in 2018
than 60 percent of districts report a serious problem with
substitute teacher shortages, with only 3 percent reporting no
problems with substitutes
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
percent of central Illinois districts and 92 percent of southern
Illinois districts have issues with staffing teaching positions
with qualified candidates
all parts of Illinois outside Chicagoland, more schools reported
a serious problem with teacher shortages in 2018 than they did
the year before. And the number of schools reporting the
shortage of qualified applicants for teaching positions has
grown significantly over the last five years increased in every
part of Illinois last year
Teacher shortages are worse in certain subject areas:
school psychologists, library/media specialists, foreign language,
and blind or deaf instructors lead the list. Schools are having to
make tough choices to deal with the problem.
More than 80 percent of districts report either canceling classes or
programs because of a shortage of qualified applicants, or
converting classes to online instruction. Most schools report
shifting teachers who would be prepping to teach their classes to
cover for absences, redistributing students to other classrooms or
even requiring administrators to teach in place of absent
In contrast, districts overwhelmingly report few problems in finding
qualified administrators for their schools. Nearly 70 percent of
school districts report no problems with administrator shortages,
and only 5 percent consider it a problem.
This marks the fourth year IARSS has worked with hundreds of school
districts statewide to gauge teacher shortages, spurring an ongoing
public discussion with legislators, school officials and advocates
around the state with increasing intensity and urgency.
The original IARSS shortage survey, conducted during the 2015-2016
school year, found 75 percent of districts reporting seeing fewer
qualified candidates than in past years, and 60 percent of districts
had trouble filling teaching positions.
As awareness of the statewide teacher shortages
challenges grows, IARSS has found more schools working proactively
to address it: actively recruiting new graduates from local colleges
and universities (80 percent); hiring replacement teachers before
teachers retire (47 percent); and increasing base salaries for
starting teachers (47 percent) lead the list.
IARSS makes three key policy recommendations as
lawmakers and schools work together on solutions. Improve the
teacher licensing process to streamline bureaucracy, especially for
retired educators who want to work again in their home district.
Expand programs for developing new teachers, such as Grow Your Own
Teacher. Continue to collect and evaluate meaningful shortage data
like used in this study to develop solutions for educator shortages.
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Mark Jontry, president of IARSS and Regional Superintendent of
Schools for ROE #17 covering four counties in the Bloomington-Normal area, said
the study’s results show a troubling trend for districts to find qualified
teachers and substitutes. But they reaffirm the commitment by many to turn
around the results.
“The leaders of our Regional Offices of Education are lifelong educators with a
real passion for teaching and nurturing children, and these numbers show while
we are all aware of teacher shortages, we are losing the battle,” Jontry said.
“We must do more to understand why fewer teachers are interested in positions in
schools around the state and find concrete solutions to address those reasons.
We will continue to work with our policymakers to make teaching an attractive
career for young people, recruit talented educators from elsewhere and help
those converting from other careers or looking to fill in after retirement get
into the classroom. My hope is 2019 can be the year we start to reverse the
trend of growing teacher shortages in Illinois.”
[Ryan Keith, RK PR Solutions]