Missouri scales back requirements for substitute teaching certification

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Missouri State Board of Education’s decision to reduce substitute teaching requirements comes at a time when fill-in’s are desperately needed across the U.S.

“There’s a national substitute shortage and so, naturally, with covid-related concerns, districts had greater concerns about having a deep sub pool to fill with vacancies as we go into the start of school,” explained Justin Crawford, Dir. of Educational Support and Human Resources with the Joplin School District.

In an attempt to help fill that pool, the state is making things a bit easier for potential applicants, starting September 2.

“Through this emergency rule change, what they’ve done is they’ve lowered those requirements to where it has to be someone the age of 21 [or older] with a high school diploma, or GED equivalent, and they have to go through 20 hours of approved, DESE approved, training,” said Crawford.

While Brandy Phillips has opted to educate her kids online this year, she says she has mixed feelings on the requirement change.

“They should make it a little bit easier for people to get in there and help, but I don’t agree, if it’s gonna be a long-term substituting, then I would prefer my children be taught by someone with more of an education than just a high school education,” Phillips shared.

Crawford says all substitute candidates are required to go through a vetting process, including a background check, to ensure qualified candidates are in the classroom.

“Subs play a critical role and especially at this time as we’re struggling through the pandemic. We’re navigating uncharted waters and so we will rely heavily on substitutes this year. So, if there is anyone out there that’s interested, they’re welcome to go to our website,” stated Crawford.

Joplin schools pay substitute teachers $90 per day.

Crawford says substitute teachers have been utilized since day one of this school year, which began Aug. 24, but so far the district has had a 100% fill rate.

Every state has different requirements when it comes to substitute teaching.