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Portfolio Overview

Approximately 130,000 full-time teachers and administrators are employed in Illinois public schools, comprising a workforce responsible for supporting the positive, holistic development of 1.9 million youth across the state. In 2021, roughly 87% of that teacher workforce was retained. Although teacher retention has remained stable for the past 5 years, an educator shortage disproportionately exists in certain subject areas, such as special education and bilingual/English as a Second Language; educator demographics, such as race; and geographic areas, including rural and urban districts. By focusing our research on those areas where shortages are pronounced, IWERC aims to explore the factors that contribute to the development and retention of diverse, high-quality teachers. 

Educator Attrition

2021 Educator Shortages

IWERC’s Teacher Workforce Research Portfolio

Educator Working Conditions

Investigating Why Educators Leave the Profession

The Illinois Workforce and Education Research Collaborative (IWERC), in partnership with IARSS, the LEAD Hubs, and Goshen Education Consulting, surveyed over 3,000 current and former educators across Illinois about their working conditions. Less than half (40%) of all educators—both current and former—reported satisfaction with their compensation. Despite this general finding, relationships with school leadership emerged as a critical factor for educator retention. Results also indicated that under half (47%) of former educators had positive relationships with leadership, compared to three-fourths (77%) of current educators.

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Portfolio Team

Shereenbeilstein COE Pic Copy

Shereen Oca Beilstein

Senior Research Associate, IWERC

Project Lead


beilste2@uillinois.edu

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Mariana Barragan Torres

Postdoctoral Research Associate, IWERC


marianab@uillinois.edu

The Illinois Educator Shortage and Employment Project

A research-practice partnership (RPP) to assess the state’s teacher recruitment and retention

IWERC’s Teacher Workforce Research Portfolio

Project Overview

The Illinois Educator Shortage Survey, which began in 2017 by a RPP of regional superintendents and education policy and research groups, was designed to capture school district superintendents’ perceptions of the educator workforce across the state. The annual survey assesses the impact of the educator supply on day-to-day district operations such as open positions and class offerings.

In 2021, IWERC joined this RPP and helped launch an educator employment project to examine the patterns of and factors that contribute to teacher and administrator attrition and mobility across the state. Both projects aim to provide leadership at multiple levels—from school communities to state lawmakers—with critical information about their workforce that can (1) shape recruitment and retention strategies and (2) influence policy to support learner populations disproportionately affected by the educator shortage and teacher attrition and mobility.

2021

IWERC’s Teacher Workforce Research Portfolio

2021 Illinois Educator Shortage Survey

Illinois’ Persistent Educator Shortage:

Multiple Sources Point to the Same Conclusion

Abstract: Data from the annual Educator Shortage Survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools indicate that the burden on public schools to find qualified educators has not improved over recent years. Data from the Illinois State Board of Education further show that the pool of qualified teachers and administrators does not meet the demand of districts and schools. It is imperative that policymakers invest in all parts of the educator pipeline from recruitment and preparation to induction and retention to support the development and maintenance of a highly qualified and diverse educator workforce statewide.

February 2022

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2021 Illinois Educator Shortage Survey

Chronic Teacher Shortages

Part 1: Content and Geographic Areas with High Need

Abstract: Teacher shortages are broadly distributed across Illinois for all content areas and grade bands—from elementary to high school. Yet specific content areas and geographic regions differ in severity of shortages. This white paper, the first of a two-part series, investigates (1) which content areas are in the highest need of qualified teachers; (2) which populations are most impacted by staffing difficulties; and (3) the long-term magnitude of the problem.

March 2022

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IWERC’s Teacher Workforce Research Portfolio
IWERC’s Teacher Workforce Research Portfolio

2021 Illinois Educator Shortage Survey

Chronic Teacher Shortages

Part 2: Demand for Teachers by Grade Band

Abstract: Teacher shortages are broadly distributed across Illinois for all content areas and grade bands. Yet specific content areas and geographic regions differ in severity of shortages. This white paper, the second of a two-part series, delves into the specific shortages of content area and geographic region by grade band. For each grade band, we examine (1) where the reported unfilled (i.e., job openings that remain vacant) and underfilled (i.e., job openings occupied by under-qualified, substitute, or outsourced hires) teacher positions are geographically located for all content areas; (2) the content areas that comprise the top quintile of un- and underfilled teacher positions; and (3) the breakdown of un- and underfilled teacher positions by hiring method for the most impacted content areas. The findings continue to show that strategic efforts to address teacher shortages should target specific content areas and geographic regions as opposed to blanket policies that impact the whole profession.

May 2022

Read the White Paper

2021 Illinois Educator Shortage Survey

Illinois’ Persistent Educator Shortage

Support Staff Shortages During a Time of Crisis

Abstract: The annual Educator Shortage Survey, conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, indicates that shortages of support personnel (e.g., school counselors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and speech-language pathologists) were severe for the 2021-22 academic year. Districts are struggling to fill open positions in these areas throughout the state and at all grade levels. These positions provide much-needed support for students as schools respond to the impacts of COVID-19. Findings highlight the importance of strategic efforts that develop and retain a highly qualified and diverse educator workforce statewide.

June 2022

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IWERC’s Teacher Workforce Research Portfolio
IWERC’s Teacher Workforce Research Portfolio

2021 Illinois Educator Shortage Survey

Additional Analysis: Teacher Starting Salary

Abstract: The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS) has conducted an annual survey of superintendents for the past five years.3 Combining results on teacher shortages from the IARSS survey and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Unfilled Positions report indicate concentrated and persistent hiring challenges in specific content areas (e.g., special education and English as a second language/bilingual education) and geographic areas.4 To further understand root causes of staffing issues related to teacher recruitment, we compared teachers’ starting salary across all districts in Illinois against multiple measures of teacher shortage. Broadly, there was some evidence supporting a relationship between starting salary and measures of teacher shortage. First, a weak positive association was found between starting salary and teacher retention. Second, a weak negative association was found between starting salary and superintendents’ perceptions of shortage severity.

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