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): Tennessee does not offer substitute licenses, but it does maintain minimal requirements regarding the length of assignment of substitute teachers.
Length of Assignment: Tennessee specifies that any substitute teaching for more than 20 consecutive days in the same classroom "must be a licensed teacher and hold the appropriate endorsement or be a retired teacher and have held the appropriate endorsement."
Evaluation of Long-Term Substitutes: Tennessee has no requirements for the evaluation of any of its substitute teachers.
TN Administrative Rules and Regulations 0520-1-2.04(6)
Require substitute teachers to have a substitute license.
Tennessee should require all substitute teachers to obtain a substitute teaching license. Licenses issued by the state allow for uniform minimum requirements so that all districts have access to a similarly qualified substitute teaching pool.
Distinguish requirements for short-term and long-term substitutes.
Tennessee 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.
Require long-term substitute teachers to be evaluated.
Tennessee 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. Tennessee 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.
Tennessee 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.