Licensure for Substitute Teachers: Wisconsin

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

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.

Analysis of Wisconsin's policies

Substitute License(s): Wisconsin offers a Five-year Substitute License for both short-term and long-term substitute assignments. The state also offers a Three-Year Short Term Substitute Permit. The Five-year Substitute License is available to teachers with current or expired licenses. The Three-Year Short Term Substitute Permit requires a bachelor's degree and requires the district administrator to declare, "that an emergency exists in the district due to the lack of qualified substitute teachers and requests that a permit be issued by the department."

Length of Assignment: Wisconsin permits holders of a Five-Year Substitute License to teach in a short-term assignment for any subject regardless of the area of their existing license. A short-term assignment is no longer than 45 days. A teacher can substitute teach in the area of their license for a long-term assignment that is greater than 45 days. Wisconsin also permits holders of a Short-Term Permit to teach for up to 45 days in the same assignment.

Evaluation of Long-Term Substitutes: Wisconsin requires holders of the Five-Year Substitute License to be evaluated under the state's evaluation system.

Citation

Recommendations for Wisconsin

Distinguish requirements for short-term and long-term substitutes.
Wisconsin 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.
Wisconsin 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. Wisconsin's policy of allowing substitute teachers to teach 45 consecutive days in the same classroom may be detrimental to instructional quality and daily productivity.

Require long-term substitute teachers to be evaluated.
Wisconsin 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. Wisconsin 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.

State response to our analysis

Wisconsin was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for this analysis. The state also indicated that when a district requests a three-year short-term substitute permit, it must provide the teacher training in:
1. Basic district and school policies and procedures.
2. Age appropriate teaching strategies.
3. Discipline, conflict resolution and classroom management techniques.
4. Health and safety issues, including handling medical emergencies.
5. Techniques for starting a class.
6. The culture of schools and the profession.
7. Working with lesson plans.
8. Working with children with special needs, including confidentiality issues.

How we graded

Not applicable. This goal was not scored in 2017.

Research rationale

Research finds that teacher absences negatively affect student achievement and growth.[1] While some of this is attributable to the disruption of regular classroom practices and instruction,[2] 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.[3] However, absences covered by substitutes licensed by the state are not as detrimental to student achievement as those covered by non-licensed substitutes.[4] 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.[5] Parents, teachers, principals, and students have concerns about substitute teachers' quality and qualifications.[6] 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.


[1]Miller, R. T., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2008). Do teacher absences impact student achievement? Longitudinal evidence from one urban school district. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(2), 181-200.; Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2009). Are teacher absences worth worrying about in the United States? Education Finance and Policy, 4(2), 115-149.; Joseph, N., Waymack, N., & Zielaski, D. (2014). Roll call: The importance of teacher attendance. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/RollCall_TeacherAttendance; Zubrzycki, J. (2012). Educators take another look at substitutes. Education Week, 31(36), 1-16.
[2] Rundall, R. A. (1986). Continuity in subbing: Problems and solutions. Clearing House, 59(5), 240.; Turbeville, I. F. (1987). The relationship of selected teacher characteristics on teacher absenteeism in selected school districts of South Carolina (Unpublished Dissertation). University of South Carolina.
[3] Miller, R. T., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2008). Do teacher absences impact student achievement? Longitudinal evidence from one urban school district. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(2), 181-200.; Varlas, L. (2001). Succeeding with substitute teachers. Education Update, 43(7).; Gagne, R. M. (1977). The conditions of learning (3d ed.). New York, NY: Holt Rinehart and Winston.; Capitan, J. H., & et al. (1980). Teacher absenteeism. A study of the Ohio Association of School Personnel Administrators. Seven Hills, OH: American Association of School Personnel Administrators; Herrmann, M. A., & Rockoff, J. E. (2012). Worker absence and productivity: Evidence from teaching. Journal of Labor Economics, 30(4), 749-782.
[4] Note that this study did not define what "licensed" meant in the context of substitutes; see: Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2009). Are teacher absences worth worrying about in the United States? (Working Paper 24). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
[5] Miller, R. T., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2008). Do teacher absences impact student achievement? Longitudinal evidence from one urban school district. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(2), 181-200.
[6] Abdal-Haqq, I. (1997). Not just a warm body: Changing images of the substitute teacher. ERIC Digest.; Ostapczuk, E. D. (1994). What makes effective secondary education substitute teachers?: Literature review. ERIC Digest.; Weems, L. (2003). Representations of substitute teachers and the paradoxes of professionalism. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(3), 254-265.; Seldner, J. K. (1983). Substitute teaching: Is there a better way? Teacher Education Quarterly, 61-70.