DESE makes changes to substitute teacher certification requirements

Local districts hope it will bring in more applicants

CARL JUNCTION/NEOSHO, Mo. – There’s a severe shortage of substitute teachers in the State of Missouri and nationwide. Now, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or “DESE”, has removed a barrier for substitute certification.

Makayla Donham is a substitute teacher. Right now, she’s helping out at the Carl Junction Primary Center. She began subbing last year and has completed at least 60 college credit hours, which, up until now, has been the requirement to get certified as a substitute in Missouri. But, there’s a severe substitute shortage, that even Makayla, has noticed. “We are really needing substitutes in our building, I have seen other schools that I have worked at that they will replace specials teachers and put them in real classrooms if needed, which kind of takes away from our students.”

DESE recently added a new pathway to becoming a certified substitute in Missouri. Those interested in being subs can now take a 20 hour online course from DESE to receive their certification. Carl Junction Superintendent Dr. Phil Cook is hopeful that will bring in more candidates. “That’ll help a little bit, it’s still up to us, when people come in to apply to be a sub, it’s important that we’re putting good people in the classroom with our kids.”

Carl Junction isn’t the only district seeing the shortage, Neosho is another on that long list. Neosho’s Superintendent, Dr. Jim Cummins, sees the change as opening a door to other qualified candidates that may not have completed the 60 college credit hours. “To me, what DESE has done is allowed us to do that, to go out and train the people that we need to come in and be subs without going through some of old standards.”

Makayla says the change is a good thing, as the need for subs is causing other issues in the schools. “Personally I think it’s helpful because our kids are in such a spot where we’re really in a bind that if they aren’t getting someone in that classroom to watch over them, to care for them, then they might get their resources taken away from them.”

She’s hopeful more people will sign up to get their substitute certification. “I 10 out of 10 recommend being a substitute.”

Carl Junction approved a pay raise for substitutes just last week, bringing their daily pay up to $100 in an effort to attract more qualified candidates.