MOLINE, Illinois – We're only days into the 2019-2020 school year and the biggest test is not being seen by students but by administrators.
"In the past there may have been 100 to 200 applicants for an elementary position if you will and now that pool of candidates is severely diminished. It could be 10-20 applications," said the superintendent of the Rock Island County Regional School District, Tammy Muerhoff.
There's a teacher shortage.
And the need is great.
The latest numbers this week show 2168 open teaching positions in Illinois right now.
In Iowa, the number is almost the same, 2157, even though Iowa has just a quarter of the number of public school students.
"With recent legislation that eliminates the basic skills test for new applicants, that will drastically increase the number of applicants that are eligible to apply," Muerhoff said on "News 8 with Jim Mertens".
See more of our interview with Tammy Muerhoff on the "THIS WEEK EXTRA" interview at the WQAD Jim Mertens Facebook page.
She said changing the application process and increasing base teacher pay will go a long way toward bringing teachers to the classroom.
The state is also considering a program that pays student teachers during their training period.
Right now in Rock Island County, the specialized jobs can be the hardest to fill.
"Special education educators are extremely difficult to identify for hiring," said Muerhoff.
Watch "This Week with Jim Mertens" Sundays at 8:30 a.m. on WQAD News 8.