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

Substitute Management

A recent Talk Data to Me blog 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 recent 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.

Frontline’s mobile app now offers functionality for substitutes to fill absences. 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 all organizations where substitutes have access to the mobile app over the first three weeks they were able to use it.

Key Terms

Substitute Mobile Adoption – the proportion of an organization’s filled absences that were filled via the new Frontline 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 more absences at an organization that have been filled through the mobile app as opposed to text, phone, or browser, the higher that organization’s fill rate tends to be.

“Hold up,” you might say. “You don’t know that’s 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.

Additional Resources on Substitute Engagement

Kevin Agnello

Kevin is a Data Analytics Engineer for Frontline Education. He is a former high school mathematics teacher and holds a Master's Degree in Educational Curriculum and Instruction, a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology, and is working on a dissertation toward a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.