SPRINGFIELD -- The Governor's Summit on Education, to be held in Springfield on November 19, will focus on the critical teacher quality and shortage issues and will address our teachers' mastery of basic skills and subject areas.
"Increased global competition will continue to affect the type of work being done in American work-places, creating new high-skilled jobs. It is imperative that we prepare Illinois' future workforce with the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st Century," said Governor Ryan. "Illinois' educator workforce is one of the largest in the state, and the effective preparation of teachers is critical to workforce preparation in all other areas."
The Ryan Administration is committed to making sure there is a capable and caring teacher in every Illinois classroom. However, some teachers are not academically prepared for a variety of reasons including low college academic standards. For example, over half of the 900 teacher certification candidates who have not passed the state's basic skills test have degrees from Illinois higher education institutions and the rest have degrees from out-of-country and out-of-state higher education institutions.
In addition, almost half of the 155,000 currently certified teachers have not taken basic skills or subject-matter tests, often because they were certified before testing was required or their types of certificates were exempt from testing.
Effectively preparing current and future teachers also affects teacher retention efforts. Each year, many Illinois districts are unable to fill positions for various reasons, including the lack of qualified applicants in specific fields of study. Actively working to prepare and recruit potential teachers is key to improving the shortage problem. In Illinois in the year 2000, for example, while about 13,000 education degrees were awarded at the baccalaureate and masters levels, over 27,000 working teachers were eligible to retire.
Another element that affects teacher quality and shortages is over-production in some academic areas, such as elementary education, and under-production in others, such as mathematics, science, special education, bilingual education and some career and technical education fields.
Further, the state loses far too many teachers in the first years in the profession. Between 1997 and 2000, data compiled by the State Board of Education indicates that 24 percent of Illinois teachers left the profession before finishing three years on the job.
The Governor's Summit on Education will focus on four areas of concern regarding the supply and quality of educators in Illinois schools: educator recruitment, preparation, retention and continuing professional development.
Delegates participating in the Summit will be reviewing recommendations to help develop a legislative agenda for the spring 2002 session.