Many Illinois Teachers Lack Necessary Credentials

August 6, 2014

Illinois school districts have employed hundreds of educators to teach everything from science to special education even though they lacked proper credentials in those subjects, a Tribune investigation has found.

The assignment of teachers not properly trained and credentialed to teach a specific course — a practice that has come under fire nationwide — is facilitated by loopholes in state laws and rules as well as by district hiring practices. It has occurred even when applicants with the required qualifications were available, the newspaper found.

At the same time, the system designed to monitor teacher licensing allows some educators to work for months or even years before getting proper credentials.

Federal officials say that every child deserves a quality teacher — one who has expertise and credentials in his or her field. And last month, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan asked states to prepare an "equity plan" by April 2015 to ensure that all students, especially minority and poor children, are not disproportionately taught by inexperienced, unqualified teachers.

A review of licensing records, state data and local district documents over the past five years revealed examples across the Chicago region, including:

•Lake County's Barrington 220 district hired a math educator to teach science even though she wasn't trained in that subject and had never taught it. In another case, the district allowed a young teacher without an economics background to teach economics to 11th and 12th graders, some of them honors students.

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