Funding to build a pipeline of high-quality teachers in Illinois was announced today at High School District 214, where 100 students signed letters of intent to become teachers.
At District 214’s Educator Prep signing ceremony, the Joyce Foundation, Illinois P-20 Council and Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University launched Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois (SEPI), an initiative that will help eight communities build streamlined teacher career pathways that begin in high school and stretch into postsecondary, setting students on a clear path to a teaching license. The goal is to create teacher pipelines to plug gaps in the teaching ranks. The gaps are particularly acute in rural and urban classrooms.
Illinois faces teacher shortages in key subjects such as special education, English Language Learners and STEM. The state’s teaching ranks also lack needed diversity, as the teacher workforce is 85 percent white despite research that shows students of color benefit from having teachers of color.
“We are proud to be supporting this work and look forward to its growth,” said Jesse Ruiz, Deputy Governor and Chair of the Illinois P-20 Council. He said the SEPI initiative advances two goals of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration. “This initiative will help address the teacher shortage in our state in a diverse and strategic manner, and help our students better prepare for college and career while completing high school.”
The funding will go toward eight Illinois community collaborations that represent 21 school districts, 36 high schools and 15 colleges or universities across the state. About 450 students are expected to participate in the first wave and would graduate as part of the class of 2021.
The new initiative builds off “Teach Illinois: Strong Teachers, Strong Classrooms,” a policy roadmap on addressing teacher shortages that was created by the Illinois State Board of Education, and funded by the Joyce Foundation. Among its recommendations, the roadmap called on school districts and postsecondary institutions to work together to create high-quality pathways into the teaching profession. The SEPI initiative aims to do just that.
In the Teach Illinois report, District 214’s Educator Prep program is highlighted as a model for teacher preparation programs. The new statewide initiative is partially modeled off District 214’s program.
Launched in 2016, the District’s Educator Prep program recruits students interested in education and ensures they are highly qualified for teaching positions in Chicago's northwest suburbs and beyond. As part of the program, high school students receive a sequence of education coursework, dual-credit opportunities and external teaching experiences.
As part of the Educator Prep program, students can study education at National Louis University or Northeastern Illinois University, where they will continue to receive professional development opportunities from District 214 and partnering elementary districts, including a guaranteed student teaching position. If students successfully complete their higher education programs, they are guaranteed a job interview at District 214 or a partnering district in open positions.
"Four years ago, we created a teacher preparation program to ensure our students become highly-qualified teachers who look like and are tied to our communities, and I am so proud of its success," said District 214 Superintendent Dr. David R. Schuler. "Our goal was, and still is, to eliminate barriers of access and affordability, and ensure our students have opportunities through partnerships. We are excited to see other school districts embrace this model so we can collectively elevate the teaching profession and train the next generation of educators.”
The following is a list of the SEPI community collaborations:
- Springfield District 186
- District 214
- Rock and Mississippi Valley Collaborative / Regional Office of Education 47
- Southern Illinois Collaborative / Regional Office of Education 30
- Plainfield District 202
- Quincy Rural Collaborative / Regional Office of Education 1
- College of DuPage / Indian Prairie HSD 204
- Fayette and Marion County Collaborative