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DESE lowers barriers to substitute teaching certification 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Board of Education agreed to allow substitute teacher candidates an alternative way to be licensed.

The board approved the provision, which allows substitute teacher candidates to take 20 hours of online training rather than the 60 hours currently required for certification. The item was proposed as a way to compensate for an expected shortage of substitute teachers. 

“Many teachers and school administrators have expressed concern about the potential shortage of substitute teachers during the 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19,” said Office of Educator Quality Assistant Commissioner Paul Katnik. “With already a declining number of candidates entering the education profession, this option will help Missouri school districts and charter schools develop a deeper pool of substitute teachers both in the short and long-term.” 

The training will include 20 hours of instruction in professionalism, honoring diversity, student engagement, classroom management, and instructional strategies. The new rule will remain in effect until February when the board will evaluate whether to extend the change through the remainder of the school year. 

The board also approved an emergency clause to the rule change, allowing the change to take effect on Sept. 2 in order to expedite the hiring process. 

The board approved the rule change during Tuesday’s agenda meeting by a vote of 6 to 2, with some board members expressing concerns about prospective substitutes having a lack of experience or knowledge, calling it a “temporary fix.” Supporters of the change said it would increase the pool of applicants for substitutes and help keep schools open for in-person instruction. 

The number of applicants for substitute teaching had declined over the past six years, according to documents in the agenda, and the board found the COVID-19 health crisis will likely lead to a further decrease. 

The board also heard reports on the 2022 budget estimates, data on the reopening of schools, and an update from the Task Force for Learning Acceleration before approving the discipline of three Missouri educators. 

Board members agreed to transfer the charter sponsorship of Hogan Preparatory Academy from the University of Central Missouri (UCM) to the Missouri Charter Public School Commission (MCPSC). UCM requested the cancelation of its sponsorship in July, and the board approved the transfer to allow the school to remain operational this fall.   

A considerable amount of debate surrounding a set of motions to eliminate cumulative GPA requirements for education students led to a stalemate in the board, with board members ultimately voting to shelve the discussion until the next agenda meeting.   

The next Board of Education meeting is set for Sept. 15.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.