Monday, December 12, 2016

High-poverty schools often staffed by rotating cast of substitutes - The Washington Post

High-poverty schools often staffed by rotating cast of substitutes - The Washington Post:

High-poverty schools often staffed by rotating cast of substitutes


Mya Alford dreams of studying chemical engineering in college, but the high school junior is at a disadvantage: Last year, her chemistry teacher at Pittsburgh’s Westinghouse Academy quit just weeks after school started, and the class was taught by a substitute who, as Alford put it, “didn’t know chemistry.”
The year before, there was no permanent biology teacher until December. Students at Westinghouse, a high-poverty school in one of Pittsburgh’s roughest neighborhoods, often see a rotating cast of substitutes, Alford said.
“You’re looking at test scores,” Alford said of the school’s low performance on state standardized tests in math, science and reading. “But we didn’t have a stable teacher.”
Every U.S. classroom needs a sub from time to time. But in the troubled schools that serve some of the nation’s neediest children, it is not uncommon for classrooms to churn with substitutes as teachers leave in large numbers each June, or quit midyear, and principals struggle to fill the positions.
The disruption of teachers coming and going and the frequent use of substitutes with varying levels of skill and commitment effectively steal learning time from students who can least afford it, experts say.
Just 27 states require substitutes to be certified teachers, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. The council’s database of teacher-related policies in 118 districts — including the 50 largest and the largest in each state — shows that just 61 districts, about half, require subs to have a bachelor’s degree. Eleven require no more than a high school diploma or GED, and eight have no policies addressing substitutes’ qualifications.
“It’s the elephant in the room,” said David Sapp, director of education advocacy and legal counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, linking the issue to “persistent chronic failure at certain schools.”
The ACLU branch has brought several lawsuits related to public schools’ teacher churn and heavy use of substitutes. “There are a narrow set of schools where this happens all the time, and until that gets really unpacked and resolved, there’s only so much that can be done to close theHigh-poverty schools often staffed by rotating cast of substitutes - The Washington Post


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