More Than Shortages: The Unequal Distribution of Substitute Teaching

Jing Liu,
Susanna Loeb,
Ying Shi
Year of publication
Education Finance and Policy

Classroom teachers in the US are absent on average approximately six percent of a school year. Despite the prevalence of teacher absences, surprisingly little research has assessed the key source of replacement instruction: substitute teachers. Using detailed administrative and survey data from a large urban school district, we document the prevalence, predictors, and variation of substitute coverage across schools. Less advantaged schools systematically exhibit lower rates of substitute coverage compared with peer institutions. Observed school, teacher, and absence characteristics account for only part of this school variation. In contrast, substitute teachers’ preferences for specific schools, mainly driven by student behavior and support from teachers and school administrators, explain a sizable share of the unequal distribution of coverage rates above and beyond standard measures in administrative data.

Suggested Citation:

Liu, J., Loeb, S., & Shi, Y. (Forthcoming). More Than Shortages: The Unequal Distribution of Substitute Teaching. Education Finance and Policy

Media mentions:

. Brown Center Chalkboard - The Brookings Institution. America faces a substitute teacher shortage—and disadvantaged schools are hit hardest