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The Teacher Vacancy Grant is part of a pilot program aimed at addressing chronic shortages by providing the state's most understaffed districts with resources to attract, hire, support, and retain teachers. The grant allows districts maximum flexibility to use allocated funds in innovative, creative, and evidenced-based ways, such as signing bonuses, housing stipends, down-payment assistance, or loan repayments; to pay tuition and fees or provide residencies or apprenticeships; and to sustain employment of current teachers by providing materials, supplies, coaching, and school culture supports.

Districts in Evidence-Based Funding Tiers 1, 2, 3 (as calculated for fiscal year 2023) have been identified for eligibility. Districts in Tier 4 are ineligible for this program as are the 352 districts that reported having no unfilled teaching positions at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year. One hundred seventy districts have been identified as eligible to receive awards based on the highest counts of unfilled teaching (not administrative or school support) positions and to ensure that 60% (102) of awards go to rural districts and 40% (68) of awards go to urban districts. The 60/40 split is aligned to the composition of all Tier 1, 2, and 3 districts in the state. National Center for Education Statistics locale classifications were used to determine which districts were rural and which were urban.

Examples of how districts have utilized grant funding to retain staff include:

  • Retention incentives for current teachers (e.g., loan forgiveness) 
  • Funding for tuition/fees to support current teachers in earning new endorsements and degrees
  • Instructional coaching and/or mentoring programs to support newer teachers and provide upward mobility opportunities for excellent, experienced teachers 
  • Professional learning for teachers to learn new evidence-based practices
  • School culture/climate improvement systems, initiatives, and staffing 
  • Programs and activities to show appreciation to teachers and increase morale
  • Wellness programs and spaces for teachers 
  • Supplies and materials for teachers
  • Updated instructional technology to support teachers in planning and delivery of high- quality instruction

 FY24 Information

Eligible districtsPDF Document have received direct communication from the Illinois State Board of Education.

An information webinar was held on June 27, 2023. 

 Community of Practice

This Community of Practice serves as a collaborative platform where passionate educators like yourself can come together to share insights, strategies, and lessons learned from your experiences implementing the Teacher Vacancy Grant. By joining forces, we aim to cultivate a supportive environment where innovative ideas flourish and where we collectively address challenges faced in tackling teacher vacancies.

Here's what you can expect from our Teacher Vacancy Grant Community of Practice:

  • Shared Learning: Engage in open discussions to exchange successful strategies and innovative approaches that have proven effective in addressing teacher vacancies in your local context.
  • Peer Support: Benefit from the collective wisdom of fellow grantees who understand the unique challenges and opportunities of the Teacher Vacancy Grant program.
  • Professional Growth: Collaborate with educators from diverse backgrounds to expand your knowledge and skills in addressing teacher shortages and improving educational outcomes.
  • Resource Sharing: Access valuable resources, tools, and best practices to enhance your implementation efforts and maximize the impact of the grant.
  • Networking Opportunities: Forge meaningful connections with like-minded educators who are committed to making a difference in their communities through the Teacher Vacancy Grant initiative.

We believe that together, we can create a vibrant Community of Practice that empowers educators to thrive and inspire positive change in the education landscape.

​We look forward to your active participation and invaluable contributions to our shared mission of addressing teacher vacancies in Illinois and fostering excellence in education.

 Teacher Vacancy Grant | Office Hours

Teacher Vacancy Grant Office Hours for 2024 will be announced at a later date.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Application Process

  1. Will districts need to apply?

    Districts will need to complete a formula grant application in ISBE’s electronic grants management system. The application will be streamlined – the main components will be the districts plans for the funds and proposed budget. Applications that have all the required components, are aligned to the purpose of the program and contain allowable expenses will be approved. Applications will not be compared to one another as in a competitive grant, but rather will be evaluated against the standards/expectations for the program.

  2. How will districts apply?

    Districts eligible for a grant will have to apply for their funding through ISBE’s electronic grants management system.

  3. What will the application entail?

    Districts will be required to explain the causes of the teacher staffing challenges in the district, submit a detailed budget to ISBE outlining the planned use of funds to address those staffing challenges, agree to grant-specific terms, and share how the programming will be sustained beyond the term of the grant.

  4. Can a district refuse/reject funds?

    Yes. Please send an email indicating that you wish to refuse to participate.

  5. When is the last date for applications to be accepted?

    Please submit applications by August 26th.

  6. What can districts use the money for?

    To meet local needs and challenges to teacher recruitment and retention. Districts have flexibility over how they spend the funds, but ISBE will issue guidance to support districts with evidence-based ideas, such as:

    • Financial incentives to immediately impact recruitment/hiring (Signing bonuses, Housing stipends and/or down payment assistance, Loan repayment)
    • Programs and incentives to strengthen pipelines (Tuition & Fees, licensure fees to support employee advancement, Partnerships to develop strategic pathways e.g., residency, apprenticeships)
    • Investments to sustain teachers and reduce attrition (Instructional Materials and Supplies, Instructional Coaching, School culture supports)

  7. What specific guidance will ISBE be giving to districts for the use of this grant money?

    Districts have flexibility over how they spend the funds, but ISBE will issue guidance to support districts with evidence-based ideas, technical assistance, consulting, and communities of practice to support those receiving funds. In reviewing applications, ISBE will look for alignment of the proposed solutions/expenditures to the suspected root causes of shortages in that district and consistency with evidence-based practices.

  8. Are there resources to help guide me on how to best spend our awarded dollars?

    Yes! The grant team put together a series of strategy briefs that summarize a variety of solutions that may be beneficial to districts across the state. The strategy briefs can be found here.

  9. If I have questions, is there someone I can contact?

    Teacher Vacancy Grant Office Hours for 2024 will be announced at a later date.

Overview

  1. What is the goal of the grant?

    The Teacher Vacancy Grant Pilot Program is aimed at addressing chronic shortages by providing the state's most understaffed districts with resources to attract, hire, support, and retain teachers. The grant will allow districts maximum flexibility to use allocated funds in innovative, creative, and evidenced-based ways such as signing bonuses, housing stipends, down-payment assistance, or loan repayments; paying tuition and fees or providing residencies or apprenticeships; and sustaining current teachers by providing materials, supplies, coaching, and school culture supports.

  2. Where can the grant application be accessed?

    When the grant application is open, it will be accessible through IWAS. Login to your administrative IWAS account at this link.

Eligibility

  1. How were districts selected to participate?

    Districts in EBF Tiers 1, 2, 3 (as calculated for FY23) were considered for possible award. Districts in Tier 4 were excluded as were the 352 districts that report having no unfilled teaching positions at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year; those districts are ineligible for this program.

    Table 1. Comparison of Districts Receiving and Not Receiving an Award

    Metrics Districts receiving an award Districts not receiving an award
    Total Count of unfilled teaching positions 2,849 662
    Average Count of unfilled teaching positions 16.8 0.65
    Median Count of unfilled teaching positions 5.2 0
    Range of Counts of unfilled teaching positions 2-1,094 0-17
    Average Vacancy Rate for Teachers 6.7% 1.00%
    Median Vacancy Rate for Teachers 4.8% 0%
    Range of Vacancy Rates for Teachers 0.5%-36.5% 0%-25%
    Percent Districts with Chronic Unfilled Teaching Positions 71% 17.50%
  2. Was historical data used to account for districts that have "chronic" shortages?

    Historical data was overlayed and showed that more than 70% of the selected districts have reported vacancies more than three times in the past six years while 17.5% of those not selected have chronic vacancies by the same definition.

  3. Who are the eligible school districts?

    Link to eligible school districts documentPDF Document.

  4. How were the schools selected to reflect both rural and urban districts?

    Initial modeling identified 170 districts – 60% rural and 40% urban; and all of them are underfunded districts with 49% in EBF tier 1 (most underfunded), 43% in tier 2, and 8% in tier 3.

    The 60/40 split is aligned to the composition of all Tier 1, 2, and 3 districts in the state. National Center for Education Statistics locale classifications were used to determine which districts were rural and which were urban.

  5. If funds are appropriated in subsequent fiscal years, will the same set of districts be awarded?

    Yes. The Governor’s proposal was for three years of funding to the same set of districts. Future awards are subject to appropriation, but the intention is for three years of funding.

Funding Allocation

  1. How will the funding be allocated?

    In order to allocate funding for selected districts with lower counts of unfilled teaching positions, the proposed awards use three different base funding levels determined by the count of reported unfilled teaching positions in each selected district. Selected districts with more than 11 unfilled teaching positions receive a base funding level of $200,000, selected districts with between six and ten reported unfilled teaching positions receive a base funding level of $125,000, and selected districts with fewer than six unfilled teaching positions receive a base funding level of $75,000.

    In addition to base funding, each selected district receives a variable funding level determined by awarding $8,582.20 per reported unfilled teaching position. The total proposed funding for each selected district is equal to their base funding plus the specific variable funding calculated based on unfilled positions reported by that district. Two examples are shown below.

    Chicago Public Schools reported 1,094 unfilled teaching positions, so that allocation would calculated as follows.

    • $200,000 + ($8,582.20*1094) = $9,588,926.33

    Pleasant Hill CUSD 3 reported 4 unfilled teaching positions, so that allocation would calculated as follows.

    • $75,000 + ($8,582.20*4) = $109,328.80

Use of Funds

Reporting Requirements

  1. What are the reporting requirements?

    Reporting requirements are outlined on pages 266-269 of this documentPDF Document.

Measurement of Success

  1. How will we learn from this effort? Will there be an evaluation?

    ISBE will report on the program progress as part of the annual budget process and will complete final report for the General Assembly at the end of the three-year pilot.

  2. How will ISBE monitor progress/measure effectiveness?

    The overall success measure for the program is a reduction in unfilled teaching positions. ISBE will also collect leading indicators of success such as: applicants per job posting, numbers of candidates on a strategic pathway to employment as a teacher in the district, teacher attrition rates.

Miscellaneous

  1. Why (only) 170 districts?

    80% of current teacher vacancies are in 170 or 20% of school districts and we want to provide sufficient levels of funding to implement effective strategies.

  2. Is this for those currently employed at public schools only or for others as well? Are ECE community-based programs included in this work?

    This program is for public school districts. The State is supporting ECE pipeline efforts through the ECEACE, in which ISBE is a partner.

Print Teacher Vacancy Grant Pilot Program FAQsPDF Document

Updated August 8, 2023

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