Illinois relaxes rules on out-of-state licenses as part of efforts to address teacher shortage
With the passage of a new law, Illinois has made it easier for educators with an out-of-state license to teach in the state.
Legislators hope this change will get more teachers in classrooms and address a shortage in this profession.
“We need to make it as easy as possible to recruit the most qualified teachers, whether they’re from Illinois or elsewhere,” says Sen. Karen McConnaughay, who cosponsored SB 2912, which was signed into law in January.
According to McConnaughay, Illinois’ rural school districts have had a particularly difficult time with teacher recruitment. In a recent survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, 83 percent of rural districts reported having fewer qualified teacher candidates than in previous years. And 76 percent of all districts that responded to the survey reported having the same problem.
Under SB 2912, the Illinois State Board of Education has been given the authority to grant a license to teachers who hold a comparable license or certificate from another state. The state is also able to accept tests of content — which are required to teach specific subjects, such as foreign languages or technology — from other states. For subject areas such as special education, reading, and English as a second language, teaching candidates still must complete the coursework previously required by the state.
Another provision allows individuals who have completed an approved teacher education program at an Illinois college or university, but have not yet passed an evidence-based assessment of teacher effectiveness, to obtain a provisional license that’s good for one year.
SB 2912 also made it easier for Illinois teachers to renew existing licenses, by removing a requirement that educators pass a performance-based assessment every 10 years.
Districts in Illinois are struggling with a shortage not only of full-time teachers, but of substitutes as well. In response, state lawmakers reduced the cost of substitute teaching licenses to $50 (from $100) and removed a requirement that substitute-teaching candidates pass a basic skills test.
In at least two other Midwestern states this year, members of the executive and legislative branches have introduced proposals to streamline the teacher licensing process. Under pending legislation in Minnesota (HF 140), the state would consolidate its two existing licensing authorities into one and adopt a four-tiered licensing system. Each tier would have a different set of requirements, such as work experience, education level or completion of field-specific training.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget contains a proposal that would grant teachers lifetime teaching licenses with no continuing education requirements — an attempt to attract candidates to the profession. According to a state budget document, such a lifetime license would reduce the cost of teaching in Wisconsin by more than $750 over 30 years.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, fewer individuals completed teacher licensure programs in the 2013-14 school year than in 2011-12 in every Midwestern state but North Dakota (see map).