CHICAGO — Illinois education officials say the elimination of some requirements for teacher licenses has streamlined the licensing process and hasn't sacrificed the state's high standards.
The Chicago Tribune reports the changes to the licensing laws began in 2011. Some allow aspiring teachers to bypass certain coursework and exams.
Some administrators said those changes have helped fill jobs in areas with teacher shortages. But advocates for tough licensing standards said eliminating coursework and testing requirements may not guarantee educators have the credentials needed to work in public schools.
"What's interesting is that when there is a shortage in, say, nursing, no one thinks of taking away a requirement," said Phillip Rogers, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification. "For some reason it is always fair game to make adjustments in the licensing and certification of teachers."
The Illinois State Board of Education reports there were more than 1,000 open positions statewide for the 2017-2018 academic year, though that's less than 1 percent of total teaching positions. In some past years, data has shown more than 2,000 unfilled positions.
"There have definitely been a number of changes in the last few years," said Nicole Wills, a lobbyist for the Illinois Education Association. "Sometimes I think we just need to have a moratorium so that we can actually see what we've been implementing and what we're doing well."