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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – For the second time in two years, Missouri has loosened substitute teacher requirements to combat a statewide shortage.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation earlier this summer that allowed the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to modify procedures for certifying substitute teachers.

As of June 2022, the state will only require applicants to have 36 hours of college credit as opposed to 60 hours in previous years. According to the Missouri DESE website, the state is also carrying on with an alternative first approved in 2020 that would allow substitute teacher hopefuls to take a 20-hour online training course in lieu of college credit requirements.

Missouri Senate Bill 681, which changed the college-credit requirement in Missouri’s substitute teaching application process, states that applicants can be approved for a four-year certificate to substitute teach if they meet the college credit or state course requirements, complete a background check and have at least a high school diploma or equivalent.

The newly-signed legislation could also create more opportunities for retired teachers to serve as a substitute. Through June 30, 2025, retired teachers that have a substitute certification can substitute teach on a part-time or temporary basis without having those hours and salary affect their retirement allowance.

In order to maintain certification, substitute teachers will need to fill in at least 5 days a week or 40 hours over a calendar year and fulfill the criteria for their specific school district.

The state’s push for more substitute teachers comes as Missouri deals with a teacher shortage. The Missouri DESE estimated around a 5% shortage in qualified teachers and full-time employees in a December 2021 report.

Amid such shortage, Missouri is also working to collect feedback from current teachers, principals and superintendents on how to combat challenges to teacher recruitment and retention. If you are certified in one of those roles and hope to provide feedback in a survey, click here.

Educators can also provide feedback to the Missouri State Board of Education’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Blue Ribbon Commission during an in-person meeting in Jefferson City at 4 p.m. Wednesday. To follow a live stream of the event, click here.