The Acceptance and Feasibility of Alternatives to a Centralized Substitute Teacher System
Caster, Jerry Allan
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The problem. Centralized substitute teacher systems are widely used in urhan high schools, but without instructional effectiveness. With the demand for greater accountability and the increased use of school-based management, there is a need to investigate the acceptance and feasibility of alternatives to this system. Procedures. Alternatives to a centralized substitute teacher system in high schoois were investigated in an urhan district in a midwestern state. A focus group of teachers and administrators generated eight alternatives. Alternatives were defined as methods of covering for absent teachers without uslng substitutes from the district substitute teacher pool. Absences considered were limited to those of five days or fewer in duration. A critical component of this investigation was the assumption that monies could be returned to schools for their coverage for absent teachers. Teachers, administrators and students were surveyed to determine the attractiveness of alternatives generated by the focus group. Two high schools, the smallest and larqest in the district, were selected for further study. Department chairpersons and administrators were interviewed to determine their interest in using alternatives and problems they anticipated in change. Feasibility of implementing alternatives was based on current cost established by analyzing teacher absences for the 1990-1991 school year. Findings. Alternatives were identified which educators wish to implement. The preferred alternative was substitute teachers assigned specifically to high schools. High schools differed in preference for alternatives as did subject area departments. Interviewees believed teacher involvement was important in the selection of alternatives and findings support this belief. Conclusions. No alternative was able to meet all of the needs of either high school, but, in combination, the use of alternatives appears feasible. Centralized substitute teacher systems continue to be needed for long term absences and days of high absenteeism. A model was develooped to illustrate the use of alternatives along with the centralized system. Recommendations. Further investigation is needed to create improved methods of predicting absence trends for planning. The use of alternatives should be evaiuated for their instructional effectiveness and effect on professional climate. There is a need to determine the acceptance and feasibility of alternatives at other instructional levels.
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