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Substitute Management

Talk Data to Me: Does Using a Mobile App Impact Substitute Fill Rates?

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Back in 2020, we explored the importance of substitute teacher engagement in maximizing your organization’s absence fill rate. But what about the way substitutes accept jobs in your district? Can that impact fill rates as well?

Spoiler alert: Yes.

Data from a Frontline survey of substitute teachers tells us that substitutes prefer to receive absence notifications through a mobile app rather than text message, phone call, or internet browser by a ratio of 4:1. That becomes even clearer when you look at fill rates for schools where substitutes have adopted mobile.

Eighteen months ago, Frontline’s mobile app began allowing substitutes to view, filter, and accept jobs right from their phones. Data from the Frontline Research & Learning Institute shows the relationship between substitute mobile adoption within a school organization and that organization’s absence fill rate. The data below reflects over 4,000 organizations where substitutes have been using the mobile app since November 2020.

Key Terms

Substitute Mobile Adoption – the proportion of an organization’s substitute teachers that have filled at least one absence via the mobile app
Fill Rate – The proportion of absences requiring a substitute that are filled by a substitute teacher



There is a clear positive relationship between substitute mobile adoption and fill rate. The larger the proportion of an organization’s substitute teacher pool that fills absences via the mobile app, the higher that organization’s fill rate tends to be.

“Hold up,” you might say. “You can’t be sure that’s happening because the substitutes are using the mobile app.”

Sure, there may be other factors at play. Higher substitute pay, school culture, and even whether or not a district is located in a current COVID hot spot may impact fill rates. But given that mobile functionality makes it easier to accept jobs and that substitutes overwhelmingly say they prefer a mobile app to receive notifications, the data here points to increased substitute engagement. And we do know that a more engaged substitute pool leads to higher fill rates.


What You Can Do

There are many ways to increase substitute engagement in your district, such as welcoming them into your school community, providing training and other opportunities for substitutes to grow professionally, and even taking simple steps to make sure that when they show up at school, they can easily find their way around.

And if you use Frontline Absence & Time, encourage them to download and use the Frontline mobile app. Instead of spending time worrying about finding substitutes to fill absences, staff can now shift their focus back to student’s educational needs. The Frontline mobile app provides increased accessibility to job alerts, making it much easier to put a great substitute in every classroom.

With this on-the-go app:
  • Substitutes can get a notification immediately when a job is available – then filter by school name, job date, or post date
  • Teachers can create an absence request and track their own leave
  • HR can quickly access who is absent and why
  • Principals can approve employee leave in real time

Find out more


Additional Resources on Substitute Engagement