July 11, 2016

Who’s Teaching Our Kids: Changes to Illinois’ Educator Workforce Since 2002

By Melissa Steel King | Leslie Kan | Chad Aldeman

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Nationwide, concerns about teacher shortages and the retention of experienced teachers, particularly in certain subject areas and states, have been growing in recent years. Moreover, in most states, teachers entering the profession are not as racially diverse as the student population; nationally, 44 percent of all public school students are students of color, while only 17 percent of all public school teachers are educators of color.

Given that the contributing factors to and severity of these issues vary widely across the country, it is critical for policymakers to have state-specific data about their teaching workforce in order to design effective solutions. This longitudinal analysis of Illinois educator data can help inform local stakeholders’ conversations about key aspects of state education policy, particularly related to diversity and supply and demand.

In this study, Bellwether Education Partners compiles a portrait of the Illinois school workforce from 2002 to 2012 and explores changing trends over the past decade for policymakers and researchers.

By using data from the Illinois State Board of Education Teacher Service Record (now known as the Employment Information System), Bellwether was able to explore patterns in supply and demand, diversity, and staff retention across Illinois schools and within specific districts. Findings include:


  • Supply and Demand. Overall, there has consistently been a statewide oversupply of newly certified teachers in Illinois during the past decade. However, this varies substantially by subject area; some subject areas were consistently undersupplied over the ten-year period.

  • Diversity. There was little change in the diversity of Illinois’ school workforce between 2002 and 2012. The workforce is predominantly white, and the vast majority of the state’s staff of color work in Illinois’ highest poverty districts. Districts at all poverty levels exhibit substantial gaps between the racial demographics of their students and their staff.

  • Workforce Retention and Experience Levels. Approximately two-thirds of educators were still working in Illinois public schools five years after they first entered the workforce. Just over half were still in Illinois schools 10 years after they first started working.

Download the full slide deck report here. For more information on the dataset used, please contact us at contactus@bellwether.org.

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