Top of Page

Chicago Public Schools Begins School Year Reporting Strongest Staffing Figures in Recent Years

10 September 2021

More Specialized Staff, Lower Vacancy Rates, and Increased Diversity in Hiring Reflect Progress from ‘Teach Chicago’ Initiative Toward Five-Year Goals; Number of Black and Latinx New Teachers Up 64 Percent in Three Years

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

CHICAGO—Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today reported its strongest school staffing levels in recent years—including significant increases in the number of teachers, nurses and social workers, and progress recruiting and retaining diverse teachers. As of the first day of school, CPS had 20,439 staffed school-based teacher positions across the district, reflecting a 96.7 percent fill rate on the first day of school. This is a 355-teacher increase from the first day of the last school year and matches the highest pre-pandemic job fill rate in recent years. 

“With equity and excellence at the core of our vision for the future of CPS, ensuring students have equal access to passionate, quality teachers is critical to continue to build momentum upon the district’s significant academic progress,” said Interim CPS CEO Dr. José M. Torres. “Given the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing shortages impacting industries across the country, this positive staffing report represents important progress.”

In addition to high first-day staffing levels, guided by the research that all students benefit when taught by diverse teachers, CPS committed as part of its 2019 Five-Year Vision to hire an additional 3,000 Black and Latinx teachers by 2024. Since SY19, the district increased the percentage of new teacher hires who are Black and Latinx from 31 percent in SY19 to 46 percent in SY22. While efforts remain ongoing, a higher percentage of CPS teachers are Black or Latinx today than in any year since 2012. The district is reporting significant progress toward that goal, having hired 841 Black and 1,061 Latinx teachers.

One of the key strategies to help schools fill vacancies is by providing additional support to schools that have traditionally struggled to fill vacancies through the Opportunity Schools program. The baseline first-day teacher vacancy rate for schools entering the program is 7.5 percent. As of the first day of school in SY22, Opportunity Schools had a 4.3 percent vacancy rate. The Opportunity Schools program has also made great strides with hiring a diverse, high-quality teaching staff, with 57 percent of new hires identifying as Black or Latinx. 

Most of the overall increase in staffed teacher positions results with a significant increase in special education teachers. CPS started this school year with 214 more special education teachers than the first day of last school year. 

Description SY22 SY21 SY20 SY19

Number of Teaching Positions Staffed on Day One of School





School-based Teacher Vacancy Rate





Number of Special Education Teaching Positions Staffed on Day One of School





Special Education Teacher Vacancy Rate





Percentage (%) of all Newly-Hired Teachers who are Black or Latinx





Percentage (%) of all CPS teachers who are Black or Latinx





Opportunity Schools First Day Teacher Vacancy Rates 

(*7.5% average vacancy rate for schools when they joined Opportunity Schools)





“The most important thing we can do to support our schools and our students is to attract and retain outstanding teachers,” said Matt Lyons, CPS Chief Talent Officer. “The key factors to this year’s progress all lead back to Teach Chicago—a CPS initiative designed to build the best, most diverse teaching workforce in the nation. Under Teach Chicago, our Teacher Residency program, an early offer program for priority teacher candidates, and investments in helping our general education teachers obtain their special education teaching licensure are among the biggest drivers toward our overall hiring and retention goals.”

Launched in 2017, Teach Chicago includes several key programs to support recruitment and retention of high-quality, diverse teachers, particularly in the hardest-to-staff schools and in high-needs positions such as special education and bilingual teaching:

  • The Opportunity Schools program provides individualized recruitment and retention support to 77 neighborhood schools with the greatest staffing needs, primarily on the city’s South and West Sides. 

  • The CPS Teacher Residency program collaborates with local colleges and universities, supporting those who would like to transition from a school support role into teaching or careers in other fields.  

  • Teach Chicago Tomorrow creates new pathways for CPS students who want to come back to CPS as teachers. 

  • Other initiatives include partnerships with educator preparation programs to help new teachers get ready for day one in the classroom and teacher leadership opportunities for experienced educators.

Key supporters of Teach Chicago include the Crown Family Philanthropies and the Joyce Foundation. Additional support is provided by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.

# # #