Survey: Hiring, training, and ACA practices for substitute teachers

It’s a challenge many school districts across Texas face: substitute teacher shortages. Our newest survey takes a close look at substitute hiring practices, training, pay incentives, and long-term assignments. In addition, we gathered preliminary data on how districts are handling Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements for their substitute teachers.
When it comes to hiring substitute teachers, nearly 80 percent of districts do not have a minimum education qualification beyond a high school diploma, according to the survey. Those with a minimum education prerequisite above high school require the completion of college coursework: 60 or more hours in 43 percent of districts. The survey also found that more than 60 percent of districts do not conduct personal interviews with substitute applicants.
Training for substitute teachers is a requirement in most districts (76 percent). Of those districts:

  • 61 percent conduct group training at the district,
  • 9 percent percent conduct online training, and
  • 6 percent provide training from a third party.
In districts that have some form of training, about half (54 percent) require training once upon initial hiring, while 41 percent require training on an annual basis. Just 15 percent of respondents say they compensate subs for attending training.
Pay incentives can be an important factor in attracting substitute teacher applicants for hard-to-fill assignments. Very few districts (4 percent) provide substitutes with additional pay for working on specific days. In districts that do pay more for specific days, the most common practice is to offer additional pay to substitutes who will work on Mondays and Fridays. Many districts (90 percent) also do not pay more for subs who work in certain assignments.
Schools tend to pay higher rates for long-term substitute assignments. Of the 91 percent of districts that do pay higher rates, nearly half (45 percent) consider a substitute who works more than 10 consecutive days in an assignment long term. The latest 2014–15 benchmark pay data for short- and long-term teacher substitutes can be found in DataCentral.
With new ACA rules in effect for substitute teachers, we included questions about health insurance in our survey for the first time. According to the requirements of ACA, substitutes that meet the definition of full-time employees include a “permanent substitute” or similar employee who has a regular, albeit temporary, assignment (e.g., long-term substitute). In addition, a substitute who averages 30 or more hours per week for an extended period of time is subject to ACA rules for full-time employees.
In Texas schools, less than 10 percent of districts hire regular, full-time employees as “permanent substitute” teachers, according to the survey. Of this group, less than half of these floaters (45 percent) are certified teachers.
Most districts (80 percent) do not limit the number of days all, or some, teacher substitutes can work in a calendar month. In districts where substitutes may qualify under ACA (days or hours are not limited), 40 percent of responding districts said they will pay any penalties assessed; and 31 percent don’t have (or are working on) a plan.    

Our August 2014 HR Exchange article “ACA roadmap—plan a route that ensures compliance” provides guidance on ACA requirements for teacher substitutes.
TASB HR Services polled 942 public school member districts in January 2015. For the summary report findings, 314 districts (33 percent) across all TEA-defined enrollment groupings participated in the survey. HR Services member districts can still take part in the survey by visiting HR Surveys in DataCentral. Results are available for download immediately upon completion of the survey.