State report finds ‘robust supply’ of educators in Illinois


(The Center Square) – Illinois has a “robust supply” of new potential educators, according to a new report.

The Illinois State Board of Education reported that teacher retention remains strong and starting teacher salaries are growing as student enrollment declines.

The state’s 2023​​ Educator Supply and Demand Report found that the global pandemic didn’t hamper the education workforce in Illinois.

“The primary finding from this report is that the educator workforce in Illinois weathered the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the report. “Teacher retention remains strong, and the average starting salary for educators is increasing.”

The report noted room for improvement, especially in educator diversity.

“There remain areas for growth, such as the racial and ethnic diversity of the educator workforce in Illinois not being commensurate with the racial and ethnic diversity of the student population,” according to the report. “The number of education preparation program completers is consistent in recent school years, indicating a robust supply of new potential educators in Illinois.”

The report, which the Illinois State Board of Education is required to produce every three years, is not an economic treatment of supply and demand.

“When considering ‘supply,’ it is important to differentiate ‘shortage,’ a true mathematical deficiency in licensed educators, with disproportionate geographic allocation,” according to the report. “For example, there are regions of the state where the pool of candidates for certain positions is insufficient, but statewide there is sufficient supply to meet the demand, while for other positions – both regionally and statewide – there is not enough supply to meet current demand. For this reason, it is better to consider such shortages as instances of educator self-sorting and whenever possible to consider the structural and individual motivations for mobility.”

Starting average teacher salaries in Illinois have increased. In school year 2019, the average starting salary for teachers in Illinois was $46,032. That figure reached $50,776 in school year 2023. The $46,032 average starting salary in 2019 becomes $54,710 when adjusted for inflation. That means starting salaries have not kept up with inflation.

All regions of the state reported an increase in starting salaries over the five-year period examined in the report. However, the City of Chicago reported the largest gains, starting at $55,207 in school year 2019 and ending at $66,147 in school year 2023, an increase of nearly $11,000, more than double that of other regions.

Overall, the report found strong supply and demand for teachers statewide.

“The growing number of completers suggests a robust supply of potential educators in Illinois,” the report concluded. “Future research, including compilation of the 2026 Educator Supply and Demand Report, will be necessary to more completely understand the effect the COVID-19 pandemic on Illinois’ educator workforce and to determine if the trends shown in this report will continue.”

Public school enrollment has fallen from more than 2 million students in 2018 to 1.86 million in 2023, according to Illinois State Report Card figures.

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