Teachers: Experience down, education up

Over the past 10 years, public school teachers’ level of experience has gone down slightly. However, the average teacher has racked up 13 years in the profession.

More teachers have master’s degrees or higher, though research has not found conclusively that advanced degrees improve teacher quality. Studies generally find that reaching the three- to five-year experience mark has the most positive effect on teacher quality.

Teacher qualifications


Average years experience



% with advanced degrees


National Board certified


*Figures from 1999

Turnover highest in poor elementaries

On average, CPS schools keep 84 percent of their teachers from one year to the next, a level that has held since 1999. However, teacher turnover in high-poverty schools is higher than average, and has gotten worse in recent years.

Turnover is much higher among first-year teachers (22 percent) than it is for more experienced teachers (16 percent). Still, the rate is lower than it was in 1998, when 31 percent of teachers left their school after their first year.

Leadership is good, say teachers

Most CPS teachers say their principals are good leaders, with more than 80 percent believing their leaders had a clear vision for the school. Yet, one in 10 felt that the principal was not an effective manager, a figure that has remained the same over the last eight years.

On the plus side, teachers were more likely today to strongly agree that their principal made professional development a priority (40 percent) compared to 1997 (32 percent.)

High school teachers were less likely (28 percent) than peers in elementary schools (45 percent) to strongly agree that their principals set high academic standards for students.

Source: Consortium on Chicago School Research

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