Policies and Practices for Recruiting, Training, and Evaluating High-Quality Substitute Teachers: a Delphi Study
Effective substitute teachers are needed in classrooms across the United States; however, little attention is given to the policies and practices that school districts use to recruit, train, and evaluate them. The challenge of finding quality substitute teachers, despite the absence of definitive policies and practices to guide them, continues to be a problem nationwide.
The purpose of this study was to identify, using a three-round Delphi technique (Linstone & Turoff, 1975), policies and practices school districts could use to recruit, train, and evaluate substitute teachers. Data were gathered from a panel of experts who represent a variety of independent thinking on school district policies and practices for recruiting, training, and evaluating substitute teachers. The Delphi had three rounds of questions. During each round the panel members did not meet as a group (Tam & Mills, 2006).
Data were collected in 2008-2009. The nationwide panel of experts included writers and researchers, human resources directors, developers of programs for training substitute teachers, and participants at a national conference who managed programs for substitute teachers. The panel represented all six regions of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, even though all were not active members of the association.
The findings provided information about substitute teachers on policies and practices to assist school districts in providing high-quality substitute teachers in classrooms when the regular teachers are absent and intended to affect policies and practices regarding the manner in which substitute teachers are recruited, trained, and evaluated. By the end of the third round of the Delphi, the panel identified 27 policies and 51 practices school boards could enact and employ, respectively, to recruit, train, and evaluate substitute teachers. The panelists recommended policies on compensation, district support, strategies and processes, and performance expectations. They recommended specific performance criteria and evaluation practices, content and methods of training, and procedures for recruitment of high-quality substitutes. An instrument for evaluating the policies and practices covering substitute teachers is a product of the study.