Research Reports

New Teacher Career Pathways Initiative Launches


Joyce-Supported Effort Aimed at Preparing Today’s High School Students to Become Tomorrow’s Teachers

In response to teacher shortages in Illinois, the Illinois P-20 Council, the Joyce Foundation and Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University have teamed up to launch Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois, a new initiative aimed at preparing today’s high school students to become tomorrow’s teachers.

The initiative, which was announced May 2, will help eight communities build streamlined teacher career pathways that begin in high school and stretch into postsecondary, setting students on a clear path to a teaching license. The goal is to create teacher pipelines to plug gaps in the teaching ranks. The gaps are particularly acute in rural and urban classrooms.

Illinois is facing teacher shortages in key subjects such as special education, English Language Learners (ELL) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM.) The state’s teaching ranks also lack needed diversity, as the teacher workforce is 85 percent white despite research that shows students of color benefit from having teachers of color. The initiative will focus on attracting more students to teaching in key subject areas as well as fostering more teachers of color.

Through the effort, the Joyce Foundation and the P-20 Council will fund eight collaborations representing 21 school districts, 36 high schools, and 15 colleges or universities across the state. About 450 students are expected to participate in the first wave and would graduate as part of the class of 2021.

The effort will be announced during an event at Township High School District 214, where dozens of students will sign letters of intent to become teachers as part of the Educator Prep pathways initiative in the Arlington Heights district. The new statewide initiative is partially modeled off Township High School District 214’s program.

“We are proud to be supporting this work and look forward to its growth,” said Jesse Ruiz, Deputy Governor and Chair of the Illinois P-20 Council. He said the Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois initiative advances two goals of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration. “This initiative will help address the teacher shortage in our state in a diverse and strategic manner, and help our students better prepare for college and career while completing high school.”

The new initiative builds off “Teach Illinois: Strong Teachers, Strong Classrooms,” a policy roadmap on addressing teacher shortages that was created by the Illinois State Board of Education, and funded by the Joyce Foundation. Among its recommendations, the roadmap called on school districts and postsecondary institutions to work together to create high-quality pathways into the teaching profession. The Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois (SEPI) initiative aims to do just that.

“Research clearly shows that having a top-notch teacher is a key driver of student success,” said Stephanie Banchero, Education Program Director at the Joyce Foundation. “It’s important that young people see a future in teaching and particularly that young people of color see themselves reflected in the teaching ranks. This new initiative will help ensure that we have great educators in the classrooms that need them the most and that those educators reflect the diversity of those classrooms.”

"Four years ago, we created a teacher preparation program to ensure our students become highly-qualified teachers who look like and are tied to our communities, and I am so proud of its success," said District 214 Superintendent Dr. David R. Schuler. "Our goal was, and still is, to eliminate barriers of access and affordability, and ensure our students have opportunities through partnerships. We are excited to see other school districts embrace this model so we can collectively elevate the teaching profession and train the next generation of educators.”

Juan Jose Gonzalez, Pathways Director for Education Systems Center, said the new effort is an excellent way to introduce high school students to the rigor of post-secondary institutions within the context of their high school experiences. “We are excited to collaborate with school districts and experts in the teaching profession across the state to help improve outcomes for students seeking a career as a teacher or educator.”

The following is a list of the SEPI collaborations:

  • Springfield District 186
  • Township High School District 214
  • Rock and Mississippi Valley Collaborative / Regional Office of Education 47
  • Southern Illinois Collaborative / Regional Office of Education 30
  • Plainfield District 202
  • Quincy Rural Collaborative / Regional Office of Education 1
  • College of DuPage / Indian Prairie HSD 204
  • Fayette and Marion County Collaborative

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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