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Missouri education officials want to ease substitute teacher certification rules early amid 'severe shortage'

The rule change will drop the requirements from 60 semester hours to 20 hours. The new rule will take effect on Dec. 31, but leaders want it to start in November

ST. LOUIS — Missouri education officials want to make it easier to get certified as a substitute teacher starting next month.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is seeking permission to put a new rule in place to make it easier to become certified as a substitute teacher. An amendment has already been approved to lower the requirements, but it is set to take effect on Dec. 31.

The state education board allowed DESE to ask the Secretary of State and Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to move up the effective date of the new rules. Both the Secretary of State and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules would have to approve the change.

Under the new rules, prospective substitute teachers will need to complete a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education-approved, 20-hour online course to get a certification. The current rules require 60 semester hours or more of college-level credit from a DESE-recognized and regionally accredited academic degree-granting institution.

RELATED: Missouri changing standards for substitute teachers due to shortage

A press release from DESE said the online training covers "professionalism, honoring diversity, engaging students, foundational classroom management techniques, basic instructional strategies, supporting students with special needs, and working with at-risk youth."

“The sooner this new path to certification can be made available to potential substitute teachers, the better,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven in the release. “When schools cannot find substitute teachers, other full-time classroom teachers often have to fill in and give up valuable, much-needed time to prepare instructional materials, grade student work, and collaborate with colleagues — forcing those teachers to complete these tasks in their personal time.”

According to the release, DESE filed a similar amendment in 2020, but the state education board withdrew that request so they could study the effectiveness of the training course. The state board was encouraged by early feedback from school leaders and others involved in the process and approved the amendment.

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