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.
Iowa offers a substitute license. An applicant for a substitute license must pass all Iowa required assessments and complete an Iowa teacher preparation program and hold a current license. Alternatively, an applicant can hold a valid or expired teaching certificate based on a nontraditional or out-of-state teacher preparation program, with three years of teaching experience, and provide evidence of passing scores on tests mandated by the state that issued the certificate.
Length of Assignment: A substitute in Iowa may teach no more than 90 days in the same assignment during one school year. A district administrator may request an extension to the board on "the basis of documented need and benefit to the instructional program."
Evaluation of Long-Term Substitutes: Iowa state policy is unclear regarding whether substitutes with a current Iowa license are subject to evaluation under the state's evaluation requirements.
Iowa Administrative Code 282 13.16
Distinguish requirements for short-term and long-term substitutes.
Iowa should distinguish between 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.
Iowa 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. Iowa's policy of allowing substitute teachers to teach 90 consecutive days in the same classroom may be detrimental to instructional quality and daily productivity.
Require long-term substitute teachers to be evaluated.
Iowa 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. Iowa 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.
Iowa 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.