This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The private company that the School District of Philadelphia hired to handle substitute teaching services has continued to make improvements, but still severely misses expectations.
Last week, NewsWorks published a story based on Right-to-Know data that detailed the distressing rates at which Source4Teachers has staffed substitutes in most of the District’s 200-plus schools.
In response, District officials rushed to provide updated data showing that the Cherry Hill-based firm had made some significant strides.
The original story focused on data from Sept. 8 through Dec. 23 – the beginning of the school year until winter break.
In that time, Source4Teachers filled daily vacancies only 10 percent of the time or less at 62 District schools.
When substitutes don’t show, teachers at the affected school scramble to fill in by sacrificing their preparation periods.
The updated data – which extends to Feb. 19 – show that Source4Teachers provided daily substitutes for most of the District’s schools less than half the time they were needed.
But the number of schools with percentage fill-rates at 10 percent or less has been cut in half compared with the prior data set.
And 51 schools saw fill-rates increase 10 percentage points or more.
But Source4Teachers’ performance at some schools has trended in the wrong direction. In 30 schools, rates worsened since the previous data set – two schools saw drops of 10 percentage points or more.
The District had hoped that Source4Teachers would find better ways to attract substitutes to its most impoverished schools, which has long been a problem.
But that hasn’t happened.
As in the first data set, the more recent numbers show that schools with higher levels of student poverty have a harder time getting substitutes.
Only two schools in the top 20 for percentage fill-rate have an economically disadvantaged population that exceeds the District average of 87 percent. Those are Overbrook High School and Catharine Annex.