Kyle Thompson, regional superintendent for the 11th Regional Office of Education, said it gets more difficult every year for schools to fill positions, and he said the worst is yet to come. His office contains 25 school districts within seven counties, including Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Moultrie and Shelby counties.
“For a while it was, ‘Well there’s a shortage in Spanish, or there’s a shortage in FCS (family and consumer science).’ And, over time there’s just a shortage in everything; now everybody’s in a panic,” Thompson said.
Thompson said matters began to worsen when the State Board of Education made EdTPA, a performance based national assessment for licensure, a state requirement to become a teacher.
Reassessing the licensure process may be one way to address the teacher shortage, said Regional Superintendent Mark Jontry, whose office covers DeWitt, Livingston, Logan and McLean counties.
Jontry said some state education officials have considered eliminating certain testing requirements as well as making “alternative licensure programs” more accessible for disadvantaged populations and those coming from a different career. That might include adjusting the structure and scheduling of the process, he added.
“We’ve got to look at the barriers that are currently there to prevent people from entering the field for whatever reason – whether it’s testing, whether it’s coursework, whether it’s the structure of our teacher preparation programs – to make them more accessible,” Jontry said.