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The Substitute Teacher Need and the Impact On Schools

Dani Corbett
Article Writer
January 30, 2021

The Substitute Teacher Need

The demand for highly qualified substitute teachers has increased nationwide. It’s a pain point for schools, and it’s an issue that is continually on the rise. The need impacts our students and their overall education. When substitute teaching jobs are not filled by qualified substitutes, schools are required to fill that need in other ways. Overall, our teachers are doing a great job of being in the classroom. It’s reported that teachers are in the classroom 94% of the school year. What we need to address is that the last 6%.


We previously learned that teacher absence is directly related to student performance. It’s also directly related to teachers’ and administrators’ level of job satisfaction and burn-out in their jobs. When full-time teachers and administrators are required to take on additional students and the extra tasks that come with them, it can be quite a burdensome task. Knowing when teachers are not in their classrooms affects outcomes for students and other school employees also means that we know how imperative it is to keep teachers in the classroom as much as possible. But when a teacher cannot be in their classroom, it’s necessary to have well-qualified substitutes to fill in.

The substitute teacher shortage across the country will continue to rise as fewer people are working towards earning education degrees and obtaining jobs in the education field. This also means that new graduates are immediately accepting full-time positions right out of college. Previous trends suggest that new grads took a year or two substituting so they could have a better knowledge of what field of education they wanted to permanently teach in. With full-time teachers also at a shortage, the trend for new graduates has changed as new grads start their careers immediately.

Some states have even gone so far as to introduce new legislation to promote qualified substitute teachers to fill needed jobs. In Illinois, one House Bill addresses the need in a few ways. It allows retired teachers to accept substitute teaching jobs without their retirement being affected. It also allows retired teachers to sub up to 120 days per school year while remaining entitled to their retirement benefits. Included in the bill is an incentive for substitute teacher applicants as well. When a new substitute teacher teaches for ten days, they can request a refund for the application fees that were required to become a substitute teacher.

How Are Schools Filling Their Substitute Teacher Needs

When substitute teacher jobs go unfilled, schools are adapting in multiple ways. The first is for students to be split between multiple classes with other full-time teachers. This drastically increases class sizes and also interrupts daily routines for all the students and teachers involved. Teachers also cover classes together by substituting during their preparation periods. 

Another way schools are filling in is by administrators leaving their daily duties to be in the classrooms. Administrators at Garland Independent School District in Garland, Texas started a “Super Sub” initiative to help cover unfilled teacher absences. After experiencing school days where up to 45% of substitute teaching jobs went unfilled, the administrators stepped in. The initiative calls for administrators to substitute in a classroom at least one day a week through the end of the school year. The district reports great success with the initiative. Teachers are less burnt out and administrators are not left scrambling to find substitute teachers that just are not available. While most administrators are career educators and are great teacher fill-ins, it requires them to leave their administration tasks left undone. This also has an effect on our students and schools, but it is the cost associated with the shortage of substitute teachers.

Addressing The Substitute Need with Ready2Teach

If this is a problem plaguing your school or district, reach out to us to see how we can help alleviate your substitute teacher shortage! We have many tools to help assist you in getting qualified teachers to the front of your classrooms!

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