District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly said it was eye-opening to see how bad Illinois' teacher shortage is and could become.
Reilly recently attended a Large Unit District Association conference. It revealed the number of teacher licensing exams given in Illinois has dropped 74 percent from 2012-13 to 2016-17.
Reilly said the basic skills exam is unnecessarily difficult and turns away prospective teachers.
“I would argue that absolutely that the basic skills test doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in terms of how rigorous if is,” Reilly said. “It’s not that we are against rigor because that’s important.”
He suggested the math portion of the exam, for example, is far more difficult than a grade school teacher would ever need to master as a teacher.
The basic skills exam saw the largest drop among all the licensing exams, falling from 13,784 in 2012-13 to 1,016 in 2016-17. That’s a 93 percent decrease.
Reilly also suggested the bad rap teachers get isn't helping the shortage.
“In this country as a nation for at least recent history there’s been a ton of bashing of teachers across this country,” Reilly said. “That has to stop.”
He said teaching is also getting increasingly difficult because of their increased role as social workers.
Reilly noted District 87 hasn't had a shortage of teachers, but it has struggled to find a diverse pool of candidates for many open positions. He said efforts to attract minority teaching candidates have had only limited success.
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