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An Irreplaceable Replacement, This Sub Gets The Job Done
5/22/15 | NPRed

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No Substitute for a Teacher
Spring 2013 | Education Next

The 2015 Substitute Teacher of the Year award has been given to Josephine Brewington by Kelly Educational Staffing, the largest provider of substitute teachers in the U.S. The average teacher missed 11 days of school in 2012-2013, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality.

In “No Substitute for a Teacher,” June Kronholz looks into the quality of teaching that generally takes place when teachers are absent (which is probably very different from what takes place when the Substitute Teacher of the Year covers a classroom). She wrote

Duke researchers found that being taught by a sub for 10 days a year has a larger effect on a child’s math score than if he’d changed schools, and about half the size of the effect of poverty. Columbia researchers Mariesa Herrmann and Jonah Rockoff concluded that the effect on learning of using a substitute for even a day is greater than the effect of replacing an average teacher with a terrible one, that is, a teacher in the 10th percentile for math instruction and the 20th percentile in English instruction.

There’s no research on how long that effect lasts. But because learning is cumulative, “you would expect that the effect would aggregate to a larger loss of achievement over an entire school career,” Mariesa Herrmann told me. In other words, “A teacher not in a classroom is a missed opportunity for learning,” says Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ.

—Education Next

Last updated May 26, 2015