Sen. Tom Bennett advances bill to ‘get more teachers into classrooms’

Bill would suspend Teacher Performance Assessment requirement

State Rep. Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City), whose district includes portions of La Salle and Livingston counties, announced his re-election bid Monday, Dec. 20, 2021.

The Illinois Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to advance legislation from state Sen. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, that would suspend the Teacher Performance Assessment requirement.

“We continually hear that the current edTPA requirement is one of the biggest roadblocks for prospective teachers in education programs,” Bennett said in a news release. “This legislation will waive the requirement for two years, helping to get more teachers into classrooms while we develop a better system.”

Bennett said the legislation would remove one of the biggest issues stopping prospective teachers from making it to the classroom.

Under current law, prospective teachers are required to pass the edTPA requirement to complete their education program. The edTPA standard has been criticized for being difficult, inaccurate in predicting future performance, expensive for education students, and for taking too much time away from in-classroom training, Bennett said in the release.

The requirement also has been blamed for keeping diverse teachers out of classrooms, he said.

Senate Bill 1488, filed by Bennett, would waive the edTPA requirement through Aug. 31, 2025. The legislation also would create the Teacher Performance Assessment Task Force, which would be tasked with developing a new evaluation system for teaching students. The task force would be required to present its findings no later than Aug. 1, 2024.

The legislation passed the Senate Education Committee on March 22.

With redistricting, Bennett’s 53rd Senate District now takes in southern La Salle County, southern Bureau County and a portion of Putnam County, including Streator.