Governor J.B. Pritkzer’s executive order has a provision that has not been widely talked about it since going into effect on May 1st. The order has a provision to provide an easier path for licensure for prospective teachers, paraprofessionals, and other educator candidates looking to graduate this year. The Illinois State Board of Education is reporting that there are 15,000 teacher or public school support position students around the state. ISBE Director of Educator Effectiveness Emily Fox says they didn’t want to make the issue worse by not allowing this year’s 7000 seniors from getting license by taking two major steps. “The EDtpa will be exempted for educators who are in their last stages of their preparation program who were unable to complete the EDtpa because of school closures. The same thing is being used for student teaching and internships. An educator that was unable to finish their student teaching or internship this Spring will not be held back. They will receive an exemption and be able to receive licensure as normal.”
Teacher candidates who are eligible for these exemptions have already undergone extensive coursework, pre-clinical fieldwork experiences, and a licensure content test to prepare them for the professional educator license.
Fox says that her office is always looking to streamline ways to get more teachers in the classroom. She says that one of the ways they can get rid of an undue burden in the near term has to do with short-term approvals for new educators. “These are ways that educators can essentially be provisionally licensed and get in the classroom and start teaching, receive mentorship, and then have time to complete full licensure requirements while they are teaching on those approvals. There are still minimum requirements that they have to meet in order to get the approval, but they are able to start working and start accumulating experience before being fully licensed.”
Illinois had over 4800 unfilled vacancies at school districts for teachers, social workers, administrators, and paraprofessionals. Governor Pritzker’s order works with ISBE and the Illinois Board of Higher Education to help make sure that the 7000 seniors this year aren’t bottle-necked into programs awaiting licensure. Fox said that school districts and colleges provided input into the governor’s order to help with the guidance.