Is there a substitute teacher crisis on our hands in metro Atlanta? The DeKalb Schools FY2015 Sub-Finder Report indicated that a substitute teacher was found only 65% of the time they were requested. Find the sub fill rate for your elementary school below. I asked Dr. Steven Green, our new superintendent, if his staff could shed some light on substitute teaching in DeKalb.
Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith is the Chief Human Resources Officer and has been with DeKalb Schools for almost 25 years. She earned an Ed.S from Jacksonville State University in 1998 and an Ed.D from Argosy University in 2005.
Dr. Ward-Smith also played Forward for the University of Virginia where the Cavaliers’ appearance in the 1990 NCAA Final Four was the first in the history of the Virginia women’s basketball program.
Question: How much do subs get paid? Do subs get any other benefits?
Dr. Ward-Smith: Day to day substitute teachers are paid $85 per day. There are no other benefits provided for sub teachers.
Question: What qualifies as a long term sub and how does their pay and benefits differ from short term subs?
Dr. Ward-Smith: Retired or Certified teachers who serve as a long term substitute are paid $95 per day. In 95% of the cases, long term subs are retired certified teachers. We specifically target retired educators to serve in long term positions. In about 5% of the cases day- to-day substitutes will cover a long term position.
Question: When teachers are absent, our SubFinder system automates teacher absence reporting and substitute teacher placement.
Dr. Ward-Smith: Please note that we are moving to a new, better and improved system in January. The challenges with the Subfinder system could not be remedied after close to 18 months of troubleshooting with the vendor. Although the Subfinder System was one source for obtaining sub coverage it is not the only source.
Question: When a teacher is absent and SubFinder cannot find a sub, what happens to the class with an absent teacher?
Dr. Ward-Smith: Coverage from other certified personnel, Coverage from paraprofessionals, Merging of the classes.
Question: What is the teacher/active subs ratio?
Dr. Ward-Smith: 6300 Certified teachers & 1,193 Active Subs (Active subs who worked at least 10 times per year (1 day per month) 856).
Question: What challenges are we facing with building up an active subs pool?
Dr. Ward-Smith: Please see the Actions To Improve Sub Services. Additionally, the 16 day limit- which will be modified for FY2016.
Question: The SubFinder report says only 31,717 sub requests were filled for 49,523 absences in Aug – April of FY2015. That is a 64% fill rate. Is that accurate? What is an acceptable fill rate?
Dr. Ward-Smith: It is with a strong reservation that I provide this report due to the number of challenges we have had with the Subfinder System. Without manually counting more than 130 sites on a daily basis to monitor to Districts fill rate, I cannot verify accuracy of the report. This system server crashes and data backup is compromised. Please note that next year we will be using AESOP to manage our substitute system.
The SubFinder data is “only” a report. It is important to note that the Subfinder system is only one method of requesting substitute teachers. The Subfinder fill rates are only calculated on jobs that are actually placed in the system. Often times, principals/teachers do not have the opportunity to place the absence into Subfinder and will have to call the sub directly. This skews the overall numbers as reported by Subfinder. With the goal of providing you with a complete picture of failed to fill rates, Human Resource recommends the inclusion of additional data to identify all uncovered absences; which will cost additional time and effort.
Please note that the fill rate was closer to 74% and even then this is not an acceptable fill rate. An acceptable fill rate would be 90% or better.
Question: How did we only have a 64% sub fill rate?
Dr. Ward-Smith: Once again the fill rate was closer to 75%. Please know that the bigger issue is staff attendance and finding ways to encourage great attendance. Better attendance= Reduced need for substitute employees
Question: What are we doing to address the fill rate for next year?
Dr. Ward-Smith: The Division of Human Resources is working diligently to improve our processes and procedures regarding Substitute teachers. Last school year, the District hosted a mandatory Substitute Appreciation and Training was held for all Substitute teachers. The purpose of this training was to ascertain why Substitute teachers were not accepting jobs, recognize them for their hard work and dedication, and to provide strategies for classroom success.
Please review the Actions To Improve Sub Services which reference the results of a Pre-meeting Survey, common themes from a Post Meeting Question and Answer Session, and Recommendations from Veteran Principals that may aid in Securing Substitutes.
1. New Substitute System – The Division of Human Resources will use a new system as the Subfinder System has run its course and upgrades do not meet the needs of the District. Therefore, a new Substitute system will be implemented in January 2016.
2. We hired 200 additional subs by the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Prior to school opening we will hire an additional 150-200 Additional Substitute Teachers
3. Substitute Teacher Job Fair – The Division of Human Resources held a Substitute Teacher Job Fair. Each school hosted a local fair on February 18, 2015. Principals had the opportunity to make a recommendation to Human Resources for Substitutes for their sites. This allowed principals to see Substitutes that are specifically interested in working at their school.
4. Substitute Teacher Ad-Hock Committee- A committee of Teachers, Parents, Administrators and Substitutes met in March to address and develop strategies for securing substitute teachers. Please see the attached document.
5. Attendance Incentives- The Division of Human Resources is working coming up with ideas and ways to provide incentives for Substitutes who accept jobs on a consistent basis, etc.
6. Substitute Preferences- All substitute teachers have been asked to update/select the schools they “prefer” to work. This is called the Substitute Preference List. Once a preference list is created and established by a Substitute, Subfinder will only call the Substitute for the school listed on the Substitute preferred list. All Substitutes have been asked to update their preferences by August 2015.
7. Modify ACA substitute teaching threshold. As opposed to only allowing Subs to work 16 days per month, the limit will be changed to 80 days per semester.
Dekalb Elementary Schools Substitute Teacher Fill Rate
|School||FILLED||TOTAL||Fill Rate Percent|
|Smoke Rise ES||332||377||88%|
|Shadow Rock ES||316||363||87%|
|Cedar Grove ES||203||237||86%|
|Narvie J. Harris ES||366||430||85%|
|Oak Grove ES||247||292||85%|
|Chapel Hill ES||320||382||84%|
|Rock Chapel ES||325||392||83%|
|Browns Mill ES||271||336||81%|
|Murphey Candler ES||293||371||79%|
|Panola Way ES||286||366||78%|
|Henderson Mill ES||224||305||73%|
|Bob Mathis ES||165||225||73%|
|Kelley Lake ES||149||204||73%|
|Sagamore Hills ES||255||353||72%|
|DeKalb ES School of Arts||243||340||71%|
|Pine Ridge ES||310||435||71%|
|Stone Mill ES||238||349||68%|
|Flat Rock ES||292||436||67%|
|Canby Lane ES||265||404||66%|
|Oak View ES||419||639||66%|
|Huntley Hills ES||234||360||65%|
|Flat Shoals ES||92||143||64%|
|Stone Mountain ES||196||313||63%|
|Eldrige Miller ES||188||302||62%|
|Briar Vista ES||199||347||57%|
|Indian Creek ES||367||651||56%|
|Cary Reynolds ES||399||718||56%|
|Laurel Ridge ES||99||189||52%|
|Ashford Park ES||208||413||50%|