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Washington State University
College of Education

Intern Substitute Certificate

Use of WSU student teachers as substitute teachers

The Intern Substitute Certification is a limited teacher certificate which allows intern/student teachers to work and earn pay as a substitute while simultaneously doing their student teaching.

The demand for teachers has resulted in a shortage of substitute teachers.  Washington State University (WSU) understands that the growing need for substitutes places school districts in a difficult position.  However, student teaching is the most valuable pre-service experience and is designed to assure that prospective teachers enter the profession successfully.  Therefore, WSU discourages the use of student teachers as substitutes.

Similarly, WSU discourages the use of cooperating teachers as substitutes in other classrooms.  This practice limits the cooperating teacher’s availability to mentor pre-service students and, in effect, violates the school district’s contracted responsibility to provide a student teacher with a cooperating teacher on an ongoing basis.

WSU will use the following policy for (a) awarding an Intern Substitute Teacher Certificate, and (b) allowing substitute teaching by student teachers who possess an Emergency Substitute Teacher Certificate:

  • Determination of readiness for an Intern Substitute Teacher Certificate, or for substitute teaching by student teachers who possess an Emergency Substitute Teacher Certificate, will be made after formal observations by the university supervisor, and with input from the student teacher and the cooperating teacher.
  • The student teacher must have progressed in their assignment to the point where they demonstrated the ability to effectively teach and learn from teaching solo, and no sooner than the mid-point of the student teaching experience.
  • The student teacher shall notify, in writing, the student teaching supervisor of each substitute teaching assignment.  Notification shall occur at the first meeting with the student teaching supervisor subsequent to the substitute teaching assignment.

In addition to the above policy, WSU encourages school districts to adhere to the following practices:

  • Certificated personnel shall be legally responsible for the classroom(s) where the student teacher is teaching as a substitute teacher.
  • Teaching as a substitute should be limited to no more than three consecutive days and cannot exceed 10 days total.
  • The student teacher shall not be penalized in any way, including performance evaluations, for refusing to accept an assignment as a substitute teacher.

The Intern Substitute Certificate is valid only during the student teaching field experience.  Substitute service during the student teaching phase (1) must be in the cooperating teacher’s classroom, (2) must be approved by the university supervisor, (3) cannot exceed a total of 10 days and (4) is limited to a maximum of three consecutive days per occurrence.

Issuance of this certificate is subject to the following conditions:

  • District approval
  • Completion of at least 50% of the field experience
  • University supervisor and cooperating teacher approval
  • Application and payment of the $57.00 fee.

Please Note:  Some districts do not support the use of pre-service teachers as substitutes.  Please check with your cooperating teacher or building administrator before applying.



All Intern Substitute Certificates are processed through E-Certification. WSU student teachers must complete the following steps:

  1. Cooperating teacher, supervisor, and principal discuss and decide if they approve the student teacher.
  2. Supervisor emails Staci Bickelhaupt their approval.
  3. Principal notifies school district HR office that the student teacher is eligible for Intern Sub.
  4. HR will recommend the student teacher through E-Cert.
  5. OSPI will confirm that WSU approves of the certificate.
  6. Student teachers should monitor their E-Certification account. Once the district has requested the Intern Sub certificate they will apply for their district request. At this time the student teacher will apply and pay the $57.
  7. OSPI will review the application and issue the Intern Substitute Certificate.


Washington state rule
(WAC 181-79A-231)