State Board of Education Approves an Emergency Amendment for the Route to Substitute Certification

Oct 19, 2021

The State Board of Education (State Board) authorized the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to request the Secretary of State and Joint Committee on Administrative Rules allow the new amendment to the certification process for substitute teachers (5 CSR 20-400.220) to take effect in early November instead of December 31, 2021. The State Board determined that the emergency amendment was necessary because of the severe shortage of substitute teachers, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the more severe Delta variant of the virus.

“The sooner this new path to certification can be made available to potential substitute teachers, the better,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “When schools cannot find substitute teachers, other full-time classroom teachers often have to fill in and give up valuable, much-needed time to prepare instructional materials, grade student work, and collaborate with colleagues — forcing those teachers to complete these tasks in their personal time.”  

DESE filed a similar proposed amendment to this rule in 2020. The State Board determined to withdraw that amendment to review the effectiveness of online training for substitute teaching. Based on the early success of the program and positive feedback from school leaders and other stakeholders, the State Board voted to bring the current proposed amendment, and the subsequent emergency amendment, forward with changes based on DESE’s review of the program.

Currently, individuals looking to obtain a substitute certificate must complete 60 semester hours or more of college-level credit from a DESE-recognized and regionally accredited academic degree granting institution. The new amendment will allow individuals to take a 20-hour DESE-approved online course instead of the 60 semester hours. The online training covers topics such as professionalism, honoring diversity, engaging students, foundational classroom management techniques, basic instructional strategies, supporting students with special needs, and working with at-risk youth.