CENTEGIX can help the Substitute teacher shortage

Schools are experiencing a support staff and teacher shortage following two years of difficult virtual and hybrid teaching caused by COVID-19. However, the corresponding and often overlooked substitute teacher shortage also makes it hard for schools to keep instructors in every classroom. 

The teacher shortage is so pervasive that more than 85% of schools began the 2023-2024 school year understaffed. Schools had to rely on an already dwindling pool of substitute teachers to fill those positions. 

According to a study from the Chicago Public School district, substitute teachers weigh safety, convenience, and value in choosing schools. 

The US Substitute Teacher Shortage

The acute teacher shortage in the US has created a need for more substitute teachers. Even without a teacher shortage, the average school year sees more than 600,000 substitutes cover more than 30 million nationwide teacher absences each year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics summarized the problem as follows:

“Traditionally, demand has exceeded supply for substitute teachers at current wages. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the substitute teacher shortage has increased to the level that 20 percent of requests for substitutes are unfilled.”

In a survey of educational leaders, Heather Schwartz and Melissa Diliberti found that 77 percent of district leaders reported a considerable shortage in substitute teacher pools, making it the position leaders perceive to be the hardest to fill. Another 16 percent reported a moderate substitute teacher shortage. And most tellingly, nearly no respondents said they do not have a shortage. 

In a report by the same authors, one anonymous respondent said: 

“Operational issues are just taxing us at every level. As an example, there were three different schools on three different days that I had to close because I had too many call-offs and not enough staff to replace them, or substitutes replace them.”


CENTEGIX can help the Substitute teacher shortage

The Need for More Subs

Substitute teachers are critical to the daily operation of a school. And with the amount of instructional time this generation of students lost to pandemic-related lockdowns, qualified substitute teachers are vital to closing achievement gaps. 

Maintaining a pool of reliable and capable subs is critical to reclaim instructional time.

However, the substitute teacher shortage is so severe that many states have eliminated many long-held educational requirements.

In response to the substitute teacher shortage, the National Council on Teacher Quality found that 80% of districts increased substitute teacher pay, 16% lowered requirements, and 13% did both. 

As alarming as the increased need for substitute teachers is the increasing bill schools are left with. Many schools are using Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to cover the cost, but those funds must be allocated this year and won’t last much longer.  

Schools must find new ways to recruit and retain substitute teachers. 

Substitute Teachers Value Safety

In 2018, Chicago Public Schools noticed only 50% of substitute requests were being filled in its bottom quintile schools while 95% of requests were filled in top quintile schools. To combat the issue, the district worked with the National Bureau of Economic Research to create a financial incentive program that offered substitutes more money to teach at less popular schools. 

The study found that increased financial incentives not only worked but also increased the substitute teachers’ performance in the classroom. 

But, the study also found that increased financial incentives only slightly mitigate the role that perceived safety plays in a substitute teacher’s willingness to work in a school. 

Emphasizing a culture of safety is a great way to respond to the overall teacher shortage because a secure and safe workplace aids in recruitment, and a more robust substitute pool attracts potential full-time teachers. 

In schools with robust school safety programs, substitute teachers, staff members, and full-time teachers alike feel safer at work. 

For example, in a survey of CENTEGIX-protected schools in Florida, 98% of respondents answered yes to the question, “Does having CENTEGIX help you feel safer as a staff member?”

“[There was a] student attacking staff. Working with students with special needs, I would have been stuck with no help and no way to call for help [before CrisisAlert]. CENTEGIX helps so much! Saved myself and others from major injuries.”
–High school teacher, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida


CENTEGIX can help the Substitute teacher shortage

Enhancing Safety to Abate the Substitute Teacher Shortage 

The results of the Chicago Public Schools substitute teacher incentive program couldn’t be more explicit. Substitute teachers heavily weigh safety when deciding which schools to work in—even in the face of the opportunity to make more money. 

The study also showed that teachers who felt safe and valued performed better, avoiding instructional gaps typically caused by teacher absences.   

The CENTEGIX Safety Platform helps schools create a culture of safety, which comes with the added benefit of easier recruitment, better teacher and substitute retention, and better student performance outcomes. 

The CENTEGIX Safety Platform is comprised of four pillars:

  • Safety Blueprint™
  • CrisisAlert™
  • Visitor Management
  • Reunification

Safety Blueprint is a mapping technology that gives your school safety team room-level visibility to monitor your campus and all available safety and security assets. The real-time mapping integrates with other CENTEGIX services and third-party security and safety technology. 

CrisisAlert is a wearable safety badge that empowers staff, teachers, and substitutes alike to discreetly and quickly request help exactly where they need it. 

Visitor Management allows school districts to automatically run background checks and screenings on every school visitor every time they walk through the door. Now, you have up-to-the-minute accuracy, so you know who is on your campus. 

With Enhanced Visitor Management, you can see exactly where visitors are on your campus, restrict access to sensitive or non-essential areas of your campus, and make sure visitors aren’t overstaying their welcome. 

Finally, Reunification helps record every student on a digital roster, as well as who is allowed to check the students out, even when emergencies require the movement of students to a different location. 

Schools Empower Substitutes With CrisisAlert Badges

Larger CENTEGIX-protected schools have a dozen or more substitute teachers in classrooms on any given day. Many of those schools issue permanent CrisisAlert badges to the consistent members of the substitute teacher pool.

Other schools with more minor substitute needs or higher rates of substitute teacher turnover often assign their substitute teachers a visitor badge with locating technology. 

The flexibility of the technology means most schools can find an application that works for their specific needs. 

CENTEGIX Keeps Your Campus Safe, Even When Subs Are Coming In

With CENTEGIX technology, everyone is accounted for and has access to the same safety resources, even those who aren’t in the same classroom daily.

This makes individual subs feel safer and more empowered to protect their students. The growing body of research shows that teachers, and even specifically substitute teachers, are more willing to work in schools that emphasize safety and feel secure. 

Similarly, substitutes who feel empowered, both from a safety and value standpoint, are shown to have impactful instructional time, even in the absence of the primary teacher. 

Not only is a safe school a better school, but it’s also a school that can attract more and better teachers and substitutes.

Find out how the CENTEGIX Safety Platform can help you resolve your substitute teacher shortage today.