FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2002
Teacher Quality Suffers When Supply is Inadequate
Illinois will need to hire about 55,000 new teachers, including
about 33,000 first-time teachers, and 3,500 new administrators
over the next four years, but unless the supply unexpectedly
outpaces demand, there will not be enough high quality candidates
to give districts many choices, according to a State Board
of Education report released today.
Educator Supply and Demand" report presented at the
State Board's monthly meeting in Chicago draws a troubling
picture for Illinois schools and mirrors a national trend.
Demand exceeds the available supply of teachers partly because
of early-career teacher flight, retirement, increasing competition
for teacher candidates from other states and the private sector,
and decreasing interest in education careers among young people.
Shrinking Pool. The problem goes far beyond ensuring
there are enough teachers to fill the vacancies, however.
The size of the teacher pool from which districts can select
is shrinking. The quality of teachers in the classrooms suffers
when districts have fewer choices and less opportunity to
find the best-qualified candidates for their positions.
"With teacher supply and demand we need to do more than
come out even," State Superintendent of Education Ernest
Wish said. "Our pool of candidates must be broad and
deep enough to ensure that multiple high-quality candidates
are competing for each position. We do not want our schools
to have to 'settle' for a teacher who is only partly qualified
or who otherwise might not be the best match for a position
just because no one else is available."
More than 42,000 Illinois public school students faced the
very real possibility that there would be no qualified teachers
in their classrooms when the 2000-2001 school year began.
Of the 2,637 unfilled vacancies in the fall 2000, 2,225 were
Half the vacancies were in the Chicago public schools, 28
percent were in the suburban districts of Cook, Lake, Kane,
Dupage, McHenry and Will counties, and 22 percent were spread
throughout the rest of the state. The remaining unfilled positions
were principals and other administrators, counselors, nurses,
social workers and other student support staff. Data on unfilled
positions for the 2001-2002 school year are still being collected.
The competition for would-be teachers is growing significantly.
Undergraduate enrollment in teacher preparation programs dropped
by 10 percent last year. This year's figures not yet available.
Even once they become teachers, many individuals are lured
away immediately and others leave in their early years at
About half the new teachers produced in Illinois each year
never make it into the state's public school classrooms. Other
states are offering financial incentives, including signing
bonuses and housing allowances, to attract teachers. Private
schools are a favorable option for some individuals. Business
and industry recruit teachers as well, especially those in
the areas of mathematics, science and computer science.
Attrition: Teacher Flight and Retirements. The overall
rate at which teachers leave the profession has increased
by 60 percent since 1996. While retirement accounts for about
23 percent of teacher attrition, more than 75 percent of teachers
who leave do so for reasons other than retirement.
Early-career flight, for example, is having a significant
impact on the teaching force. Teachers with less than five
years of experience leave the profession at relatively high
rates - between 8% and 11% per year. Related studies indicate
that Illinois loses about 30% of its teachers in the first
3 years on the job. Although their specific reasons are not
known, national data indicate that teachers leave because
of low salaries, negative school environment and lack of induction
and mentoring support.
Approximately 12 percent of teachers (15,000) were eligible
to retire last school year (i.e., 55 or older with 20+ years
of experience). Even though the total number of teachers is
increasing, the proportion eligible to retire is expected
to continue growing to about 16 percent (21,300) by 2004.
The teacher ranks are also the primary source for filling
principal and other administrator vacancies. About 60 percent
of annual administrator attrition is the result of retirement.
Last school year, 25 percent of administrators were eligible
Growing Enrollment. The pressure on teacher and administrator
demand will certainly increase with student enrollment projected
to grow through 2008. Since 1996, student enrollment has advanced
at about 1 percent annually, while the teaching force grew
by about 2.4 percent and administrators increased by 2.6 percent.
Even at these rates, the workforce is not growing fast enough
to meet demand. School district reform efforts, such as class-size
reductions, may further exacerbate the problem.
Geographic and Subject-Area Shortages. Even if an
abundant supply of teachers were available, some parts of
the state and some subject-matter areas would still experience
shortages. Wide-ranging disparities in salaries and working
conditions among school districts statewide contribute to
those regional differences. At the same time, there were not
enough special education, mathematics and physical education
teachers to fill the need in 2000-2001.
Demographic Imbalances. The scales tip dramatically
when the gender and racial distribution of educators is considered.
Racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented among teachers
and administrators, while females dominate the teaching ranks
and males are primarily administrators. Minority educators
comprise just 15 percent of the teaching force (student enrollment
is 40 percent minority statewide), 19 percent of principals
and just 4 percent of superintendents. There are three female
teachers for every male teacher, and 52 percent of principals
and 86 percent of superintendents were male.
Bottom Line. The report concludes that
- Educator supply must exceed demand in order to ensure
that adequate quantity and high quality exists within Illinois'
teacher and administrator pools.
- Illinois must aggressively recruit qualified individuals
into the teaching profession and retain them by providing
induction and mentoring support during their early years,
and improving compensation and working conditions, especially
in poor urban and hard-to-staff schools.
- The educator workforce must become more diverse - more
minority teachers and administrators, plus more male teachers
and female administrators.