2017 Hiring Policy
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.
Arizona offers a Substitute Certification and an Emergency Substitute Certification. The Substitute Certification requires a bachelor's degree and the Emergency Substitute Certification requires a high school diploma or GED.
Length of Assignment: Arizona's substitute teachers can teach for a maximum of 120 days in the same school with either certification. However, the state does not specify the maximum number of days in the same classroom assignment. The Substitute Certification can be exempt from the 120-day rule if the district superintendent can show that the position has been advertised continuously on three different sites. Arizona's policy does indicate that "A person holding only a substitute certificate shall not be assigned a contract teaching position."
Evaluation of Long-term Substitutes: Arizona has no requirements for the evaluation of any of its substitute teachers.
Arizona Administrative Code R7-2-614 (B) and (C)
Distinguish requirements for short-term and long-term substitutes.
Arizona should distinguish requirements for short-term and long-term substitutes so that it can ensure that its requirements are appropriate for the needs of these teachers. The state's long-term substitute requirements should be rigorous (e.g., that all long-term substitutes have current or expired licenses) to help ensure that teachers who are spending extended periods of time with students are prepared to do so.
Limit the number of consecutive days a short-term substitute can teach in the same classroom.
Arizona should limit the number of consecutive days a short-term substitute can teach in the same classroom without completing additional requirements or obtaining a long-term substitute license. The maximum number of days should be no more than 10 percent of the length of the school year. Arizona's policy does not specify the number of consecutive days a substitute may teach in the same classroom and may be detrimental to instructional quality and daily productivity.
Require long-term substitute teachers to be evaluated.
Arizona should maintain standards for substitute teacher quality and accountability for all substitutes, but especially for long-term substitutes who are expected to stand in for licensed teachers for extended periods of time. Arizona can help ensure that substitute teachers are held to high standards and have access to the supports necessary to improve their practice by requiring evaluations — which it may find appropriate to modify from its standard, state-required teacher evaluations — of long-term substitutes.
Arizona recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
Research finds that teacher absences negatively affect student achievement and growth. While some of this is attributable to the disruption of regular classroom practices and instruction, 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. However, absences covered by substitutes licensed by the state are not as detrimental to student achievement as those covered by non-licensed substitutes. 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. Parents, teachers, principals, and students have concerns about substitute teachers' quality and qualifications. 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.