The vast majority of first-year teachers in Illinois feel well-prepared for their jobs and plan to dedicate their careers to education, according to a new survey.
Nearly 99 percent of new teachers reported satisfaction with their career choices, and nearly 92 percent were happy with the quality of their colleges' education programs.
The survey also found that more than 95 percent of new teachers plan to stay in education, with more than 85 percent planning to remain in a teaching role.
In a collaborative effort among 12 state educational institutions, the Teacher Graduate Assessment project collected input from new teachers and their supervisors to gauge how well college prepared the teachers for their jobs and how to improve that effort.
"I was pleased by the survey results, as they affirmed that, overall, the public universities are doing a commendable job of preparing teachers for our Illinois schools," said Christine Sorensen, dean of Northern Illinois University's College of Education, who serves as the chair of the Illinois Association of Deans of Public Colleges of Education. "Both graduates and their employers indicated that teachers were well-prepared for the work they were expected to do in their schools."
Overall, teachers were very positive about their preparedness for their jobs. Lowest-scoring areas included preparedness for teaching English-language learners, working with administrators and working in a high-accountability environment.
Four out of five new teachers were supported by a mentor, with 68 percent finding the benefit to be moderate or great. Nearly 90 percent of the supervisors responding reported having mentoring programs available.
More than 90 percent of the supervisors who responded said they had visited new teachers' classrooms at least three times in the past year.
Responses indicated that most teachers often use the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards (87 percent) and the Illinois Learning Standards (91 percent). The Illinois Professional Teaching Standards
refer to key skills and competencies for all teachers, while Illinois Learning Standards refer to core skills and competencies for all students to develop.
However, nearly 20 percent of the teachers reported they don't have "most or complete knowledge of" state technology standards. Only 55 percent of new teachers reported applying technology standards in their classrooms.
The survey results were released to the public Thursday, Nov. 3, in Springfield. The project is coordinated by Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
"This program provides very valuable data," said Charles Rohn, dean of EIU's College of Education and Professional Studies, who is also president-elect of the IADPCE. "Each institution is already very involved with trying to ensure that our preparation programs are as strong as they can be, and this will provide us with an additional tool to work toward that goal."
Findings were reported in aggregate, but each participating institution also received data specific to its graduates to assist the universities with efforts to improve their programs.
As an EIU official, Rohn was happy with what the survey showed about Eastern specifically.
"We are very pleased and proud of the results as they pertain to Eastern," Rohn said. "They are very positive and overall are a validation of a very strong teacher education program. Virtually all of our graduates are very well satisfied with our preparation program and believe they were very well prepared to enter the teaching profession."
EIU was ranked higher than the state averages in most areas of graduate satisfaction.
For example, 96.6 percent of responding EIU graduates said they were satisfied with the quality of EIU's teacher preparation program, higher than the statewide average of 91.7 percent.
And 95.4 percent of EIU alumni were satisfied with their interaction with EIU faculty. The state average was 92.7 percent.
At the same time, Rohn said, the survey helped to identify areas where there is room for improvement at EIU, and officials have already started discussing those efforts.
"Those will certainly help us to begin to move an already strong program to an even better one," Rohn said.
Intended to be an ongoing endeavor, the Teacher Graduate Assessment project is a cooperative effort of the Illinois Association of Deans of Public Colleges of Education and the Illinois Teacher Data Warehouse.
The participating institutions in IADPCE and the project include Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Springfield, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Western Illinois University, and the Illinois Teacher Data Warehouse.
Funding was provided by The Joyce Foundation, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois State Board of Education and the participating institutions.
Copies of the report are available online at www.iadpce.org.