On Tuesday August 17th, the State Board of Education voted to approve changes that would allow an alternative path to becoming a substitute teacher in Missouri. Students and teachers across the state are adversely affected by the shortage of quality substitute teachers.
The Missouri State Teachers Association supports this rule change based on MSTA Adopted Resolutions. MSTA supports innovative strategies to recruit and certificate substitute teachers, provided that applicants complete a robust program that prepares candidates to deliver instruction to students and includes all health and safety screening required of school staff.
Currently in order to obtain a substitute teacher certificate, an applicant must complete the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education online substitute certificate application, pass a fingerprint/background check and submit original transcripts showing sixty semester hours or more of successfully completed college level credit from a regionally accredited academic degree granting institution recognized by DESE.
In 2020, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education allowed applicants an alternative path to becoming a substitute teacher under an emergency rule adopted to address the substitute teacher shortage made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new path to certification closely mirrors the program put in place under the emergency rule. Those interested in obtaining a substitute teacher certificate must have a high school diploma, General Education Diploma (GED) or High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) and successfully complete a minimum of twenty clock hours of DESE-approved substitute teacher training that includes professionalism, honoring diversity, engaging students, foundational classroom management techniques, basic instructional strategies, supporting students with special needs, and working with at-risk youth. The Emergency Rule expired in February 2021. In April, the State Board of Education took action to renew the program and begin the rulemaking process which can take up to seven months to complete.
While the emergency rule was in place, more than 4,000 people completed the training to become substitute teachers in Missouri. The new rule will become effective later in the fall, but the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education stated they will quickly begin to work on setting up the program and approving providers.
Both the college credit path as well as the DESE-approved training path will be available to potential applicants once the rulemaking process is completed.