Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Use of substitute teachers on the rise | The Columbus Dispatch

Use of substitute teachers on the rise | The Columbus Dispatch:

Use of substitute teachers on the rise

After 13 years in public schools, Kyrah Mattson has come to know that having a substitute teacher means an “easy” day.
There may be a worksheet or a movie, but “never anything serious,” the 18-year-old said while enjoying her last weeks of high school.
“Sometimes I like it, but being a senior — I want to get out of here and graduate so I need my actual teacher so he can tell me what I need to do in class,” Mattson said.
If the time Mattson has spent with substitute teachers is anything like the average experience for public school students across the United States, the resident of Rockford, Illinois, will have spent almost the equivalent of a full academic year with substitute teachers during the course of her K-12 education.
A GateHouse Media examination found that absenteeism could be having a big impact on students like Mattson:
• Nationally, teachers average 11 days absent each year, according to a 2014 study by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. During the course of a 13-year education — kindergarten through 12th grade — that amounts to 143 days, or 6 percent of all the time a student spent in a classroom. It's roughly a month shy of a full 180-day school year.
• Having a sub, according to several academic and thinktank studies and affirmed by a data analysis by GateHouse Media, is widely associated with lower student achievement.
• The situation also may be getting worse: According to the research conducted in May by Gatehouse Media, the average number of days that some school districts had subs in the classroom last year was 14.5 — or 188.5 days over the course of 13 years. The data analysis also showed higher use of substitute teachers in some lower-income schools. The cost of substitute teaching is on the rise, as well. School districts spent nearly $335 million on substitute teachers during the 2012-2013 school year, with 115 districts reporting. In 2014-2015, with 118 districts reporting, they spent almost $356 million, a 6 percent increase in three years.
“Research has shown a significant negative impact on student achievement in classrooms where the teacher is absent for 10 days,” the National Council on Teacher Quality reports in its 2014 study. “ Yet in the average classroom in this study, teachers exceeded this level of absence, often for perfectly legitimate reasons and even in pursuit of becoming a more effective instructor.
“Given the time and attention spent on school programs, new curriculum and strategies to strengthen teacher quality, we may be overlooking one of the most basic, solvable and cost-effective reasons why schools may fail to make educational progress,” the council concluded.
“Every day is so precious," said Sandi Jacobs, the council's senior vice president for state and district policy. "The idea that a substitute just needs to sort of hold down the fort for the day, and it doesn’t really matter if any real learning goes on — that’s harder and harder for districts to accept. At the same time, finding people who could step into a class seamlessly and accomplish what the teacher would have accomplished had she been there is a very tall order.”

More subs, lower performance

Districts spend $4 billion on substitute teachers each year, according to a 2012 study by Raegen T. Miller, a researcher at the left-leaning American Progress think tank in Washington.
Miller also co-authored a teacher absence study in 2007 for the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Both studies — along with another 2007 examination of the issue co-authored by Duke University economist Charles Clotfelter — come to the same common-sense conclusion: Students’ academic achievement suffers when teachers aren’t in the classroom.
Among their findings:
• On average, 36 percent of teachers nationally were absent more than 10 days during the 2009-2010 school year based on the 56,837 Use of substitute teachers on the rise | The Columbus Dispatch:

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