Substitute Teaching Undergoes New Scrutiny
The mythology surrounding the substitute teacher is not a pretty one: Paper airplanes, lost learning, bullying. But as schools collect more information about teacher absenteeism and its consequences, districts and schools are exploring ways to professionalize substitute teaching—or experiment with alternative ways of coping with teacher absences.
"Almost everyone appreciates at a gut level that what happens in the regular teacher's absence is not often something to brag about. It's kind of an underbelly, one of the darker secrets of what happens in public education," said Raegan T. Miller, the associate director for education research at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington that is among several national groups and schools currently studying the issue.
While substitute teachers are largely seen as occasional pinch hitters for full-time teachers, statistics show that students spend a good chunk of their time in school with them. The Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality estimates that the average teacher misses between six and 13 days of school per year. And some research now links high rates of teacher absence to lower-than-expected...
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