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Status of Substitute Teachers: A State-By-State Summary



Reported by NEA Affiliates


Alabama
Local school district policies generally govern hiring; an applicant must have a high school diploma and a negative TB skin test. Must obtain license from state (about $10). Some systems hold training sessions prior to opening of school year. Local systems set own reimbursement schedule for substitutes; state reimburses local system $35 per day. Not much success recruiting because of low pay and no payroll deduction for part-time. There are no exemplary substitute teacher programs.

 

Alaska
There is a shortage of substitute teachers. A minimum of a high school diploma is needed, but a person substituting for more than 19 days needs a certificate. Substitute pay rates vary from district to district. Pay rates with certification generally range from $100-$125 daily; without certification, $75-$80 daily. Substitutes with more than 5 days of teaching per year can organize for purposes of collective bargaining as either their own unit or as part of another appropriate unit.

Arizona
There are state guidelines governing the credentials necessary to substitute teach. Tried to encourage the development of substitute pools, but low pay is a problem. There are no exemplary substitute teacher programs.

Arkansas
There are no state statutes or requirements concerning substitutes. Some of the 310 school districts have their own local policies, and they set the pay scales. Before this school year, substitute qualifications were entirely left up to school districts, but a law that AEA introduced and that recently passed in the state legislature now requires that substitute teachers who teach the same class for more than 30 consecutive school days must have either a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university or an Arkansas teacher's license.

The law exempts those who substitute for non-degreed vocational teachers, and it allows the state DOE to grant a waiver if the requirement creates an undue hardship on a district. One district uses a temporary service employment agency to get substitutes. For the past few years, it has been more difficult for districts to find enough substitutes, much less enough qualified ones.

California
There are state guidelines governing the credentials (B.A. minimum) necessary to substitute teach. UTLA and United Educators of San Francisco have good contract language on substitutes. There are no exemplary programs. Sometimes, year-round teachers are used as substitutes on their off times.

Colorado
Colorado has the same requirements for licensing substitutes as for regular teachers, with minor emergency exceptions. There is no bargaining law for substitutes or for regular teachers. Although most K-12 teachers bargain without a law, there are no substitute bargaining units. Some large districts hire permanent substitutes that are part of the teacher bargaining units.

Connecticut
State guidelines govern the credentials (B.A. minimum) necessary to substitute teach. The lack of substitute teachers is a major problem, mainly due to low pay. There are no exemplary substitute teacher programs.

Delaware
Substitutes need a minimum of a high school diploma and must pass a criminal background check. Higher daily rates are paid to those with more education. Additional requirements and training are district-level issues. As an incentive to attract more substitutes, the state raised pay from $67 to $75 daily; permanent substitutes can earn $85 daily.

District of Columbia
In the DC public schools, substitutes must possess a bachelor's degree or a minimum of 60 semester hours of course work from an accredited college/university and a valid substitute license. They are paid $74.20-$80 per day for the following duties:

  • Follows the prepared lesson plan outline for the course of study. Instructs students through lectures, demonstrations and/or audiovisual aids.

  • Assigns lessons, corrects papers, participates in oral presentations.

  • Maintains attendance records, discipline in the classroom, playground, etc.

  • Responsible for the maintenance of classroom and all property assigned.

Federal Schools
(Department of Defense Dependents' Schools) For substitute teachers overseas, the daily rate for a service increment of one full day is $75.50; less than one full day is $37.75. A service increment of less than one full day normally will be for one-half the total time that the regularly scheduled teacher would be in attendance for a full day at the school. This service increment approximates one-half of the regular full-time teacher's scheduled work day.

 This service increment includes up to 30 additional minutes to permit completion of a class period, as required. The minimum service increment for time and attendance payroll reporting is one-half day. Such service need not be continuous.

Florida
Substitutes need a minimum of a high school diploma. There are no exemplary substitute teacher programs. From the 1999 Florida Statutes, Section 231.47: Each school board shall adopt rules prescribing the compensation of, and the procedure for employment of, substitute teachers. Such procedure for employment shall include, but not be limited to, the filing of a complete set of fingerprints.

Georgia
Substitutes need a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. GAE is beginning to go before the local boards of education to work for increased salaries.

Hawaii
Hawaii has only one statewide school district. Geographic units (administrative divisions or districts) have responsibility for substitutes. These units are given some autonomy as to implementation but, in this case, the process is the same but each unit takes care of its own substitute pool for the teachers in their respective districts. The only requirement is that applicants must pass a course. Compensation depends on the applicant's education level. Teachers call a recording, leave pertinent information, and get a confirmation number--all done electronically. Teachers need not do anything else except lesson plans.

Idaho
Most school districts do not require certification as a requirement for substitute status, even in long-term situations. The minimum credential is a high school diploma. Only the largest districts require certification, and IEA knows of no training programs.

Illinois
State guidelines govern the credentials (B.A. minimum) necessary to substitute teach. There's a major shortage of substitute teachers. In December 1999 the Regional Office of Education Relations polled regional superintendents for suggestions for improving the situation. See the Appendix for a summary.

Indiana
The minimum guideline for substitutes is two years of documented college coursework, not necessarily in education. There are no exemplary substitute teacher programs.

Iowa
Substitutes have the same licensing requirements as teachers, but there are no training standards. Substitutes can create their own bargaining unit, but none exists at present. When a contract is offered and the salary is on the schedule, long-term substitutes are easily found.

However, there is a statewide shortage of short-term per day substitutes even though the following measures have quadrupled the number of substitute teacher days: (1) The board of examiners has increased the number of days that substitutes can teach from 90 per year to 180. (2) The board is allowing anyone with a regular license to be a substitute, provided the person is not already employed and under contract. There are as many substitute teacher licenses in force now as ever (9,249 for a 33,000 teacher workforce). The number of substitutes who are new graduates is constant, but teachers in the reserve pool are not substituting. Substitute pay is between $55 and $95 per day.

Kansas
There are state guidelines governing the credentials necessary to substitute teach. For 90 days, a regular substitute needs to have completed a teacher education program. Fully licensed teachers may also substitute under no time restrictions. There are no exemplary substitute teacher programs.

Kentucky
Recruiting and keeping substitutes is a difficult issue in most school districts. A pilot plan regulation from the Standards Board allows five school districts to let the least-qualified applicants be called to meet the availability problem. There are no exemplary substitute teacher programs.

Louisiana
Louisiana has a critical shortage of certified teachers now, and the problem is even worse in regard to having enough substitute teachers. There are no uniform rules for substitutes. Some schools "sweeten the pot" to get a higher quality substitute. Several larger districts are being heavily courted by temporary services.

Maine
Substitute teachers do not need to be certified teachers and can substitute up to 10 days in a given position with only a GED or high school diploma. Substitutes are hired and paid locally, based on state regulations governing who can be hired and for how long. They are covered by DOE rules and are not included in contracts. Superintendents "register" substitutes by sending the DOE a form with the substitute's name and level of education, but there is no follow up.

The need is to reduce abuses by superintendents who fill regular teaching positions with substitutes to avoid hiring a fully qualified and more costly certified teacher. Sometimes a relative or desired person is hired who doesn't meet teacher qualifications. Substitutes are so scarce that a for-profit company that promised to supply substitutes went out of business. Next year, substitutes must be fingerprinted and have a criminal record check.

Maryland
There are no state guidelines governing the credentials necessary to substitute teach. Montgomery County is the only district that represents substitutes. The shortage is a problem in Washington, Howard, and Baltimore Counties in particular, and these counties have been working with the school administrations to resolve the shortage. Anne Arundel County uses permanent substitutes who are assigned to one building and substitute for anyone there who is absent. When they are not substituting, they help with other tasks.

Massachusetts
The difficulties in representing substitutes are monumental, and the return is minimal. The United Food and Commercial Workers took three years to get the first contract. Conditions around the state are as follows:

  • Everyone in the Western part of the state has increased the rates of substitute pay.

  • Substitutes in Springfield are organized and recently came to a tentative agreement on their first contract (represented by UFCW Local 1539).

  • The Westfield contract provides for pay based on length of continuous employment in that position. Rate of pay has been increased to $50-$65 per day for substitutes with a B.A. They are placed on the salary schedule after 91 days, retroactive to their first day of service, according to education and years of service.

  • In Boston the substitutes used to be in a separate AFT unit.

  • The Pittsfield School District has a permanent substitute program: Substitutes are hired for the several schools and paid $60 per day for 183 days, with the same health benefits as other full-time employees, that is, 90 percent Group Health (PPO), $10,000 life insurance, and an employee-paid dental insurance plan. They also are allowed four sick days, one of which can be used for a personal day. The union does not represent the permanent substitutes.

Michigan
State guidelines for the substitute teacher permit (known as the 150-day permit) allow a person who does not hold a valid Michigan teaching certificate or one valid for the teaching assignment to be employed as a substitute teacher on a day-to-day basis when the regular teacher is temporarily absent.

This type of permit is not valid for a regular or extended teaching assignment. New requirements established in 1995 include completion of 90 (instead of 120) semester hours of credit; and elimination of the 6-semester-hour credit requirement in professional education (from 6 to 0). MEA can represent and bargain for substitutes only if they are part of a recognized bargaining unit of teachers and have regular positions in the unit. Day-to-day itinerant substitutes can no longer be organized under a ruling of the employment relations commission.

Minnesota
Although the state requires full, appropriate licensure for substitute teachers, exceptions are made for "short call" substitutes (less than 14 days in one assignment), who must get a credential from the state Board of Teaching. Substitute pay is $70-$130 per day. A "limited license, often serving as the emergency credential for the substitute shortage, is issued to individuals who (1) hold an undergraduate degree in the area they wish to teach, (2) commit to completing annually a number of credits toward full licensure, and (3) demonstrate that a district intends to hire them providing there is evidence that no appropriately licensed person is available. The district must sign off on the application. Substitutes do not have collective bargaining rights.

Mississippi
The DOE is not involved; all is left to individual school districts, which can use special money to pay substitutes. In Class 5 school districts (the very best), the district may require a degree of some sort to substitute, but not in the Class 1, 2, 3, and possibly even some of the Class 4, districts. No credentialing, no licensing, no training standards, and no collective bargaining.

Missouri
The state requires substitutes to have 60 hours of college credit, and they must pass a criminal background check. When those two requirements are met, a 180-day, renewable substitute certificate is issued. Some creative districts are hiring permanent substitutes to fill their needs; others seem comfortable with the current system.

Montana
Montana has lax statutory and regulatory provisions dealing with substitutes. Despite having no state standards that substitute teachers must meet, school districts are still hard pressed to find enough substitutes. Local districts hire as they can, and some pay certified substitutes more than uncertified, but no school district requires substitutes to be certified. Many substitutes teach a few days each week in a number of different districts and may end up substituting for 100+ days per school year.

However, if the substitute is filling in for an "absent teacher" under contract (e.g., a teacher on semester-long maternity leave), the substitute for that position must be certified/licensed if the position is being filled for more than 30 consecutive days. Most of our contracts will bring these long-term certified substitutes into the bargaining unit and require that the substitute be paid at schedule following the 30th day of substituting. Prior to the 30-day threshold, most districts pay certified substitutes $65-$85 daily (roughly three-fourths of entry-level base salary for regularly employed B.A./1 teachers). Some districts are experiencing problems in finding certified substitutes at these low pay rates. Non-certified substitutes are generally paid $50 to $75 daily.

Some of our certified CBA do address substitutes--usually setting a daily substitute pay rate in order to determine the amount of reimbursement that a regular teacher on "voluntary leave" will be expected to pay the district. A few contracts provide for regularly employed teachers to "pre-select" their preferred substitute for their classroom. Some contracts assure early retirees priority hiring for available substitute work. Neither the state DOE nor the MEA-MFT collects information on substitutes. A few MEA-MFT K-12 certified units have begun discussing the substitute problem with local district administrators. Lack of substitutes appears to be an obstacle to members' making full use of professional development and other leave rights.

Nebraska
Nebraska has established a local substitute certificate that allows districts to request a certificate for a person who has 60 hours of college and one course in education. None of these have renewed their certificates. There are more than enough certificate holders to meet the demand. Although districts have raised pay to as much as $120 a day (and some also provide training), substitutes want pay plus fringe benefits and do not want to substitute on a daily basis.

With the teacher shortage, many of the long-term substitutes have full contracts now. The best substitute system seems to be the dial-in voice message system. In Omaha and Lincoln, Kelly Services, the temporary agency, trains substitutes, sees that they meet certification requirements, does background checks, and provides benefits. Kelly has approached NSEA and wants to work with the state affiliate.

Nevada
There are state guidelines governing the credentials necessary to substitute teach. The minimum is a B.A. or 62 hours of semester credits including 6 semester credits in education. A waiver can be granted with a high school diploma or GED, valid for three years and not renewable. To hire a substitute, school districts must either have less than 9,000 students or be in a rural area. There are many long-term substitutes in Las Vegas due to shortages in areas such as special education. Substitutes do not have collective bargaining rights.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire has a critical shortage of substitutes. If substituting for over 20 days, the substitute must hold certification in that area. However, standards are being lowered in order to obtain personnel. Currently, the situation is handled district by district. NEA-New Hampshire is considering working with teacher colleges to develop cadres for released-time situations.

New Jersey
The New Jersey Administrative Code permits the issuance of a county substitute certificate to those who complete a minimum of 60 semester-hour credits in an accredited college. Within the county of issuance, it authorizes day-to-day substitute teaching limited to 20 consecutive days' service in the same position in one district during the school year. A certificated teacher who is substitute teaching in an area outside the scope of his or her certificate is subject to the same limitation.

A vocational county substitute certificate may be granted on the basis of appropriate work experience in lieu of the credit requirement. Nearly 600 New Jersey districts negotiate for substitute teachers. Normally, substitute pay is set and reviewed periodically by the boards of education. Every three years NJEA does a survey of substitute pay policies district-by-district.

New Mexico
New Mexico has no requirements for substitute teachers, and the lack of substitutes makes it doubtful that any will be adopted in the near future. Funds for making it more attractive are not available in most districts. There are shortages almost everywhere, largely because of the pay. The Attorney General ruled that substitute teachers must be licensed, and legislation has been passed authorizing the state DOE to do so. The school districts are required to approve a list of substitutes who can then be licensed for up to three years if they are at least 18 years old.

New York
In some areas of NY, substitute locals are part of the bargaining unit; in others, they have their own unit; but most substitutes are in no unit at all. NYSUT/AFT has organized some substitutes on a regional basis, covering the whole district in a few counties. Credentials can be in just about any field, depending on whether the substitutes are daily or permanent. Some districts have hired permanent substitutes and place them wherever they are needed for the day.

North Carolina
In 1999, the NCAE Representative Assembly passed a new business item that directs NCAE leaders and staff to "encourage each school system to re-evaluate the existing substitute program and to develop a practical program for substitutes, which can include individual school policies and procedures that will help in securing a competent substitute teacher." Some locals can hire a full-time substitute for a school. If no teachers are absent on a particular day, the substitute does clerical work or whatever else is needed. Substitute pay scales are $71 daily (licensed/or degree) and $55 daily (unlicensed/no degree). The minimum is indexed to the salary of beginning teachers.

North Dakota
There are state guidelines governing the credentials necessary to substitute teach. Substitutes must hold a current teacher certificate. While only regular classroom teachers have bargaining rights, some locals bargain substitute pay.

Ohio
Some school districts have reacted to the shortage by restricting teachers' personal and sick leave. Others have opted for full-time substitutes. To avoid paying benefits, several districts use educational aides as substitutes, although it is illegal. The following strategies and solutions have been used in Ohio:

  • Training parents to serve as elementary substitutes for purposes of providing time for professional development for teachers.

  • Providing a day of training to anyone with a B.A. degree who wants to substitute.

  • Hiring a couple of long-term substitutes at the high school level, paying them on base salary, and providing benefits after a number of days. Substitutes are assigned to a different classroom every day.

  • Paying teachers to substitute during their planning time or increasing the pay (all through bargaining).

  • Improving pay and shortening the number of days before a substitute gets to the salary schedule.

  • Having a dollar scale that increases each day the substitute returns to the district.

  • Pulling resource teachers (Title teachers, special education teachers) from their assignments and sending them into the classrooms. Special education students are then not serviced for the day. Locals have fought this in the past by bargaining regular teachers' planning time within the student day--which is during special time--which prevents the district from using the music, physical education, and art teachers.

  • Bargaining with the local to hire permanent substitutes at every level if funding is available, and paying them an hourly rate. They are not part of the bargaining unit.

  • Recruiting local people with degrees and providing training on substituting practices and teaching. 10. Creating a substitute "pool" from which all schools draw substitutes.

  • Asking teachers to volunteer planning periods to cover classes. Offering to raise the hourly pay rate for teachers who substitute during their prep time (also completely voluntary) at rates from $15 to $22 per period.

  • Giving substitutes bonus money ($200-$300) after they have substituted for 30 days.

  • In a county where teaching jobs are hard to get, the district invites new and soon-to-graduate education students to an event where they are given information and an informal interview. Then, the district explains the need for substitutes. Many of these prospective teachers agree to be casual substitutes until a full-time job is available.

  • Initiating a job for a classified person with overtime--a secretary or clerk--who clears all substitute calls.

  • Negotiating contract language that allows teachers to fill in for people at a cost to the district, most are at $15 per class.

  • Introducing progressive attendance bonus provisions.

  • Locals use associate employees to act as full-time substitutes.

  • Asking retired teachers to substitute.

Overall, substitute pay ranges from $40 to $125 daily. Some local variations:

  • $49 lowest, with an increase after 10 days to $52; $75 highest; and the average is $55. Most build in other incentives, e.g., increase after 10-15 days.

  • $60, and after 10 consecutive days, the rate rises to $75.

  • $95 for regular substitutes, and $125 for retirees.

Oklahoma
There are state guidelines governing the credentials necessary to substitute teach. There are no exemplary substitute teacher programs. Many classes have to double up because of a lack of substitutes. Most districts pay $40-$55 daily for substitutes. Lower rates are paid to those who are not certified. The Tulsa Public Schools (largest district in the state) has just raised the substitute pay to $90 daily in order to recruit substitutes. Substitutes do not have collective bargaining rights.

Oregon
Substitutes must be licensed through the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission. The state rate for substitute pay is $120.40 and $141.64 daily in same assignment (applies only when not a bargained rate of pay). The lack of substitutes is high on members' complaint list.

Pennsylvania
Substitutes are not covered by collective bargaining agreements. Substitutes must get an emergency certificate if they don't have certification in the area where they are needed. Educators can have emergency certificates in four areas only; they may not teach for more than 15 days in a single area for which they are working under an emergency certificate. Long-term substitutes are treated like full-time permanent teachers. Per diem substitutes must be certified to teach by the state. There is a shortage, and many districts have increased the daily rate. Some are trying a multi-tier rate structure, with higher salaries kicking in after a substitute works for a certain number of days, e.g., $60 daily for the first 30 days; $75 beyond that.

Rhode Island
There are state guidelines governing the credentials necessary to substitute teach. There are no exemplary programs for substitutes. All boards of education continue to grapple with this problem. Only one local negotiates substitute pay in its contract, even though the NEA state affiliate doesn't officially represent them.

South Carolina
Even though there are no state guidelines governing the credentials necessary to substitute teach, substitutes still are extremely hard to find. Not even a high school diploma is required, although individual districts may require the diploma or a college degree. Each district treats substitutes differently. Most work 7.5 hrs for $35 to $70 daily. If substitutes work in the same classroom over 20 days, they are usually considered long-term and get the higher pay. Non-degreed substitutes usually make less than those who have a degree and certificate. Prior to the substitute's going into the classroom, some districts have an orientation program (usually lasting several hours or perhaps a week). There is no ongoing support/staff development program. Substitutes receive low pay, and there is no incentive for retired teachers or non-working certified teachers to substitute. Some bus drivers also substitute.

South Dakota
There are no standards, licensing, credentialing, or collective bargaining rights for substitute teachers. Since not even a high school diploma is required, many small districts have fought vigorously to keep the laws the way they are. Larger schools normally require that substitutes have at least a high school diploma. School districts often use long-term substitutes instead of hiring qualified teachers. Our largest school system started the school year using a long-term substitute who was actually student teaching in music. Many larger districts have their own standards (such as a B.A. degree) and will pay more for someone with education experience, but it is strictly a local option. Substitutes are not covered by collective bargaining laws and are not part of bargaining units.

They have to be at least 18 years old. Pay ranges from about $45 to $75 a day. In March 2000, due to SDEA's efforts, a law was enacted that defines long-term substitutes and requires districts to report to the state DOE the number of long-term substitutes hired and the reasons why. A companion bill that established very minimal qualifications for substitute teachers easily passed in the Senate but was killed on the House Floor. SDEA has issued many news releases on this subject and has urged parents, community, and others to voice their objections.

Tennessee
The state DOE has guidelines for substitutes. Substitute teachers are used to replace teachers on authorized leave or to fill temporary vacancies as defined by the state board of education and granted under written local school board policies. All substitute teachers are employed by the director of schools and paid by the board of education of the school system in which substitute teachers are used.

TEA conducts professional development sessions for substitutes upon request by school systems. The four-hour session covers "do's and don'ts" for substitutes, classroom management, and being a professional in the workplace. Some school districts provide substitute training and require interested individuals to attend this training before their names are placed on substitute lists.

Texas
There are no exemplary programs for substitutes.

Utah
Utah state law on substitute teachers is as follows: (1) A substitute teacher does not need a license to teach, but school districts are encouraged to hire licensed personnel, when available, as substitutes. (2) The applicant must submit to a background check prior to employment as a substitute teacher. (3) A teacher's position in the classroom may not be filled by unlicensed substitute teachers for more than 20 days during any school year, unless licensed personnel are not available. (4) A person who is ineligible to hold a license for any reason other than professional preparation may not serve as a substitute teacher. Utah continues to struggle to find enough substitutes. Pay across the state is from $45 to $75 daily for long-range substitutes. Funding is always a problem. There are no collective bargaining rights for substitutes.

Vermont
Substitute teachers typically earn $40-$70 daily. The only requirements are that they must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma. Fingerprints and a clear criminal record also are required.

Virginia
VEA is collaborating with the state superintendents' association on a survey of local issues and practices related to substitutes. The report (due later this year) will give a clearer picture of the range of requirements and problems faced. Training and credentials vary greatly from locality to locality--with some requiring significantly higher credentials than the state's meager guidelines, which only require that substitutes be at least 18 years old and have the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Washington
The Seattle School District held a "substitute summit" to discuss creative ways to lessen the shortage. Proposals include increasing substitute pay by 50 percent, assigning "permanent substitutes" to each building to allow them to develop relationships with students and staff, and providing incentives for schools to reduce their need for substitutes. Up to 60 requests for substitutes go unfilled each day in Seattle schools, which average 373 daily requests for replacements.

 The state is in the midst of a wave of teacher retirements, and districts are raiding their substitute pools to hire permanent replacements. Recent graduates of teaching programs, who once might have spent a year or two as substitutes, are instead hired directly out of school. Substitutes' pay averages about $100 per day in the region - $12.50 per hour - though it increases with longer-term assignments. One district offered bonus pay for substitutes, giving them $200 extra for every 20 days they work in the district. State guidelines govern the credentials necessary to substitute teach: Substitutes must have a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate. Substitutes have collective bargaining rights.

West Virginia
The state DOE issues short-term and long-term substitute permits. Among other criteria, the short-term substitute must have a bachelor's degree through an accredited institution of higher education and a minimum grade-point average. A short-term substitute is one who fills a position for 10 days or less. Substitutes do not have collective bargaining rights.

Wisconsin
In collaboration with the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the superintendents' and the principals' associations, and others, the Wisconsin Education Association Council is surveying superintendents, classroom teachers, retired teachers, and the substitutes themselves to identify best solutions (a report is due later this year). The Cooperative Educational Service Agency #1 is working with Milwaukee-area school districts to help them do a better job of attracting and keeping substitutes. Substitutes have collective bargaining rights. Substitute teachers get $55 to $65 daily with no benefits, compared to first-year teachers' $132 daily plus benefits. In response to emergency rules enacted in 1995 by the DPI, the WEA Professional Development Academy developed a highly praised training program for substitutes. See Sections II and V for details.

Wyoming
There are state guidelines governing the credentials necessary to substitute teach, including completion of 65 semester hours and a fingerprint check. Substitutes do not have collective bargaining rights.

(2000-01)