Licensure for Substitute Teachers

2017 Hiring Policy

2017 Goals for Licensure for Substitute Teachers

The state should ensure that substitute teachers are appropriately placed and assessed in the classroom. This goal was new in 2017 and was not graded.

Best practices

Although NCTQ is not awarding any state a "best practice" designation for its licensure for substitute teachers' policies, a few states maintain high-quality policies regarding the evaluation of substitute teachers or the maximum consecutive days a substitute can teach in the same classroom without a current or expired teaching license. Specifically, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin earn commendation for formally evaluating their substitute teachers.

Additionally, Alaska, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, and Tennessee are notable for their strong policies which limit the number of consecutive days a substitute can teach in the same classroom without earning additional credentials such as a teaching license or completion of a teacher preparation program. Substitutes in Minnesota with a Short-Call license, can teach for no more than 15 days in the same assignment. In Alaska, New Jersey and Tennessee a substitute can teach for no more than 20 consecutive days; in North Dakota and Oregon, no more than 10 consecutive days without meeting additional requirements.

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Licensure for Substitute Teachers national results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/national/Licensure-for-Substitute-Teachers-86

How many consecutive days do states permit a substitute to teach in the same classroom without meeting additional requirements?

2017
Figure details

Ten days or less: GA, ME, ND, NV, OR, PA

11-29 days: AK, KS, MN, NH, NJ, TN

30 days or more: AR, CA, CT, IA, IL, MA, MI, MT, NE, NM, OH, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV

Not specified: AL, AZ, CO, DC, DE, FL, HI, ID, IN, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NY, OK, RI, SC, SD, TX, WY

Do states maintain substitute licensure requirements?

2017
Figure details

Yes. State maintains a substitute license. : AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, HI, IA, IL, KS, KY, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OR, PA, RI, WA, WI, WV, WY

Partially. State does not offer a substitute license but maintains minimal requirements.: AK, AR, FL, GA, IN, MT, NH, NY, OK, TN, UT, VA, VT

No. State's substitute requirements are determined at the local level.: DE

No. State has no policy in this area.: DC, ID, LA, MD, MS, NC, SC, SD, TX

Do states evaluate long-term substitutes?

2017
Figure details

Yes: CT, FL, MI, NY, WI

No: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WY

How we graded

Not applicable. This goal was not scored in 2017.

Research rationale

Research finds that teacher absences negatively affect student achievement and growth.[1] While some of this is attributable to the disruption of regular classroom practices and instruction,[2] it may also be attributable to substitute teacher quality. The gap in instructional quality and daily productivity when a regular teacher is replaced by a substitute teacher is significant.[3] However, absences covered by substitutes licensed by the state are not as detrimental to student achievement as those covered by non-licensed substitutes.[4] Some research hypothesizes that the low-skill level and mobility of substitute teachers may contribute to the reduction in instructional focus and quality and that even when substitute teachers are good instructors, they may be unable to effectively implement a teacher of record's long-term instructional strategies.[5] Parents, teachers, principals, and students have concerns about substitute teachers' quality and qualifications.[6] States should maintain rigorous standards for substitute teacher quality and accountability for all substitutes, but especially for long-term substitutes who are expected to stand in for teachers for long stretches of time.


[1]Miller, R. T., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2008). Do teacher absences impact student achievement? Longitudinal evidence from one urban school district. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(2), 181-200.; Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2009). Are teacher absences worth worrying about in the United States? Education Finance and Policy, 4(2), 115-149.; Joseph, N., Waymack, N., & Zielaski, D. (2014). Roll call: The importance of teacher attendance. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/RollCall_TeacherAttendance; Zubrzycki, J. (2012). Educators take another look at substitutes. Education Week, 31(36), 1-16.
[2] Rundall, R. A. (1986). Continuity in subbing: Problems and solutions. Clearing House, 59(5), 240.; Turbeville, I. F. (1987). The relationship of selected teacher characteristics on teacher absenteeism in selected school districts of South Carolina (Unpublished Dissertation). University of South Carolina.
[3] Miller, R. T., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2008). Do teacher absences impact student achievement? Longitudinal evidence from one urban school district. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(2), 181-200.; Varlas, L. (2001). Succeeding with substitute teachers. Education Update, 43(7).; Gagne, R. M. (1977). The conditions of learning (3d ed.). New York, NY: Holt Rinehart and Winston.; Capitan, J. H., & et al. (1980). Teacher absenteeism. A study of the Ohio Association of School Personnel Administrators. Seven Hills, OH: American Association of School Personnel Administrators; Herrmann, M. A., & Rockoff, J. E. (2012). Worker absence and productivity: Evidence from teaching. Journal of Labor Economics, 30(4), 749-782.
[4] Note that this study did not define what "licensed" meant in the context of substitutes; see: Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2009). Are teacher absences worth worrying about in the United States? (Working Paper 24). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
[5] Miller, R. T., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2008). Do teacher absences impact student achievement? Longitudinal evidence from one urban school district. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(2), 181-200.
[6] Abdal-Haqq, I. (1997). Not just a warm body: Changing images of the substitute teacher. ERIC Digest.; Ostapczuk, E. D. (1994). What makes effective secondary education substitute teachers?: Literature review. ERIC Digest.; Weems, L. (2003). Representations of substitute teachers and the paradoxes of professionalism. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(3), 254-265.; Seldner, J. K. (1983). Substitute teaching: Is there a better way? Teacher Education Quarterly, 61-70.