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.
Substitute License(s): Rhode Island offers substitute licenses and requires that a substitute must have a bachelor's degree.
Length of Assignment: Rhode Island does not have a policy specifying the maximum consecutive days a substitute can teach in the same classroom assignment.
Evaluation of Long-Term Substitutes: Rhode Island has no requirements for the evaluation of any of its substitute teachers.
Regulations Governing the Certification of Educators in Rhode Island (2016) Section 12.2
Distinguish requirements for short-term and long-term substitutes.
Rhode Island 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.
Rhode Island 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. Rhode Island's lack of policy regarding the number of consecutive days a substitute may teach in the same classroom may be detrimental to instructional quality and daily productivity.
Require long-term substitute teachers to be evaluated.
Rhode Island 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. Rhode Island 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.
Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also noted that as of January 2017, the substitute license was eliminated but the requirements remain in regulation.
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.