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.
Substitute License Requirements: All substitute teachers in New Mexico are required to obtain a substitute teaching license, unless they already hold a valid teaching license. Applicants can meet the requirements for a substitute certification in a number of ways, including but not limited to: Nine hours of volunteer work in the classroom with a certified teacher; three or more hours of observation in a classroom at the grade level for which they wish to serve as substitute teacher, completion of a teacher preparation program, or holder of a current substitute license from another state.
Length of Assignment: New Mexico policy specifies "No class may be taught by a substitute teacher, in lieu of a licensed teacher under contract, for more than 45 school days during a school year." The state also requires parental notification of students who will be taught by a substitute for longer than four weeks.
Evaluation of Long-term Substitutes: New Mexico does not require any of its substitutes to be evaluated. The state does require districts to, "develop and promulgate substitute teacher policies that at a minimum address substitute teacher qualifications, hiring guidelines, workshop guidelines, disciplinary action guidelines, and guidelines that permit the tracking of a substitute by specific classroom placement and by dates and hours in placement." New Mexico state policy is unclear on whether substitutes with current teaching licenses are subject to evaluation under the state's evaluation requirements.
New Mexico Administrative Code 6.63.10 and 18.104.22.168.C
Distinguish requirements for short-term and long-term substitutes.
New Mexico 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.
New Mexico 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. New Mexico's policy allowing substitutes to teach in the same classroom for up to 45 days, may be detrimental to instructional quality and daily productivity.
Require long-term substitute teachers to be evaluated.
New Mexico 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. New Mexico 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.
New Mexico recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis, and was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced 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.