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January 15, 2003

Report shows signs of improvement in teacher supply
Retirements may yield shortage of administrators

The educator workforce grew last year by the lowest rate in ten years, according to the 2002 Annual Report of Educator Supply and Demand, prepared by the staff of the State Board of Education.

The sluggish growth in the number of teachers and administrators was likely caused by the increasing fiscal problems of school districts. Financial problems of school districts have been escalating to where the State Board estimates that as many as 85% of the state's 891 districts may be facing operating deficits this year.

The number of new teachers hired in 2002 declined 21% after climbing steadily for the past four years. First-time teachers hired decreased much less (-13%) than re-entries hired (-31%), providing another indicator that financial problems forced districts to hire teachers who were at the lower end of the salary scale. Re-entries constitute the third major source of supply of the educator workforce, growing 67% between 1997 and 2001. Only 3% of the public school workforce was comprised of re-entries in 2002, down from 4% in 2001.

In the previous ten years, the teacher workforce grew by 2% annually and the administrator workforce increased by 2.5% each year. Overall, the educator workforce increased by only 205, or .1%, in 2002. Outside Chicago, the administrator workforce grew less than 1%, compared to 2.6% for each of the last three years. Teacher workforce numbers outside Chicago increased 1.9%, down from 2.5% the last three years. Growth rates for Chicago could not be determined due to reclassification of jobs in the district.

The report cites a number of factors that suggest an improvement in the supply of educators. Retention of educators from the previous year remains the largest source of educators, and retention rates remained high in 2002. Over 93% of 2001 educators remained in the education workforce in 2002, even though 7,000 of those were retained in different positions.

In addition, the number of certificates issued increased over the last two years. New certificates issued to teachers increased 15% each of the last two years, while school service personnel certificates increased 11% and administrative certificates increased 8% per year.

The number of students in the "pipeline" increased in 2001. Undergraduate and graduate students in education programs rose from just over 38 thousand in 2000 to more than 44 thousand in 2001 and students completing approved programs of teacher education increased 12% - from 11,201 in 2000 to 12,504 in 2001.

Teacher attrition levels off; administrator attrition continues upward trend

After increasing nearly 60% since 1996, teacher attrition rates leveled out between 2001 and 2002, when just over 7% of full-time teachers left education. Higher attrition rates were recorded for alternative education (11%) and bilingual education (10%).

Attrition rates for administrators, however, have more than doubled since 1996, and the trend suggests that about 9% of administrators would be expected to leave education in 2003. Positions expected to have the highest attrition rates include district superintendents and principals in elementary and secondary schools.

Retirements expected to increase demand, especially for administrators

Illinois public schools are staffed by an aging workforce, and retirements increase the demand for replacing teachers and administrators who choose to retire. All indicators point to an increase in educator retirements in the near future. In 2002, nearly 17,000 (13%) of teachers and over 2600 (28%) of administrators were eligible to retire (defined as having 20 or more years of experience and being at least 55 years old). Retirements are expected to most affect the supply of administrators as nearly 38% will be eligible for retirement by 2005, while only about 18% of teachers will meet retirement eligibility by that time.

Unfilled positions down slightly in 2001

The number of unfilled positions has increased significantly in recent years, growing from 1,387 in 1996 to 2,637 in 2000, then declining slightly to 2,458 in October of 2001. The greatest number of unfilled positions were in the areas of cross categorical, elementary, bilingual education, speech and language, music and behavior disordered.

The report cites the following areas as having the greatest over-production in 2002: social science, guidance counselor, English language arts and health. Areas of likely under-production in 2002 included: nurse, music, physical education and special education.

Projected areas of high demand

The report estimates that Illinois will need 44,000 teachers through 2006 and bout 2,400 administrators and over 4,000 other educators through 2006. The greatest needs through 2006, in terms of percentage of the 2002 workforce, are projected to be

  • Administrators/other educators: librarian/media specialist, nurse, coordinator, assistant junior high school principal and high school principal.

  • Teachers: English as a second language; special education; agriculture; Spanish; reading/remedial reading; language arts; bilingual; learning resource center and library; physics and general science.

The full report is available at:

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777