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For Immediate Release
August 9, 2005

State Board of Education receives federal grant to support Transition To Teaching bilingual teacher recruitment initiative
Partners include Chicago Public Schools,
Northern Illinois University and Illinois Resource Center

Springfield, Ill. –The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has received a new federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Title II grant for ISBE’s Transition To Teaching Initiative, which addresses the critical shortage of bilingual teachers in Illinois. Transition to Teaching’s goal is to identify and assist individuals from other fields who wish to change careers and become bilingual teachers in school districts and early childhood programs that meet federal requirements for high need. Currently, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) District 299 is the only Illinois district to meet all the grant criteria. Participants must be fluent in English and another language targeted by the State and must already have a bachelor’s degree in any subject.

“Along with the Governor, the State Board has a strong commitment to meet the growing bilingual education needs in Illinois,” said State Board Chairman Jesse Ruiz. “Governor Blagojevich has fought for increased state funding for bilingual education totaling more than $12 million in new money to bilingual education over the last three years. This Federal grant will help us build on that investment to enhance bilingual education by attracting teachers to one of the state’s area of greatest need.”

Illinois’ Transition To Teaching initiative has a goal of recruiting 250 participants over the next five years. It provides financial support for the completion of an Illinois Elementary or Early Childhood Teacher Certificate (Type 03 or 04) with bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL) approvals. All participants work as bilingual teachers in CPS schools while completing the required coursework.

“This program will help us meet the need of the more than 57,000 English language learners that we have at CPS,” said Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

Cohorts will be created through fall 2007 to complete a Master of Science in Education degree at Northern Illinois University. It is anticipated that participants will have to pay a portion of the coursework required.

“Building a team of great teachers is critical to having high quality programs and the Transition To Teaching initiative will help us do that,” said Randy Dunn, State Superintendent. “Together with the Chicago Public Schools, Northern Illinois University and the Illinois Resource Center, we will work to attract experienced, bilingual professionals to a career in teaching.”

Identifying Candidates

In order to qualify for the program, candidates must:

  1. hold a bachelor of arts or advanced degree in a field other than education;
  2. wish to make a career change to bilingual education and/or early childhood bilingual education;
  3. submit a complete application with transcripts and required references to Chicago Public Schools;
  4. pass the Target Language Proficiency Test for Bilingual Certificate (Type 29);
  5. successfully pass the Basic Skills Test (test information and test registration for both the target language proficiency test and the basic skills test is available at A person who has a degree from a university in the target language must take the language proficiency test in English. Those who hold degrees from English speaking universities must take the language proficiency test in one of the 14 target languages of bilingual instruction--Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Urdu, Vietnamese); and
  6. submit transcripts and meet requirements for acceptance into the Northern Illinois University (NIU) College of Education’s Graduate School.

Selection of Candidates

Chicago Public Schools has sole responsibility for the selection and teaching assignments of candidates participating in the TTT/BE program in their district. Participants must fulfill the district’s requirements for coursework and preparation prior to assignment to teach in the classroom. Candidates must qualify for acceptance into the NIU Graduate School. Continued employment in the classroom is required for the candidate’s continuing participation in the certification/degree program. CPS has a residency requirement which must be met within six months of initiating teaching. Applications are available on line at

Additional information can be obtained by contacting CPS or by contacting Illinois Resource Center Transition To Teaching/Bilingual Education Program Coordinator Jack Fields at or calling 847-803-3535.

In evaluating school districts statewide, ISBE has identified districts meet some but not all Title II criteria. ISBE is exploring the possibility of forming regional cooperatives that would meet all Title II criteria. In those cases ISBE would create partnerships to establish cohorts in those areas of the state.

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