Teaching Profession Report Roundup

Teacher-Absence Rates Found to Vary Across Big-City School Districts

By Stephen Sawchuk — June 10, 2014 1 min read
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America’s big-city districts have widely different teacher-attendance rates, according to a new analysis based on data from 40 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas.

Overall, teachers in those districts were at school 94 percent of their scheduled hours in 2012-13. But a minority of teachers—16 percent—were missing for days on end.

Researchers from the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based advocacy group, examined only short-term absences, excluding from the sample long-term leave taken for serious illness or for maternity/paternity leave but not for professional development. Their study found that:

• The average teacher was absent 11 days per school year.

• Teachers in Indianapolis; the District of Columbia; Louisville, Ky; Milwaukee; and Tampa, Fla., had the highest attendance rates (an average of fewer than nine days out). Teachers in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tenn.; Portland, Ore.; and Jacksonville, Fla., had the lowest attendance rates (14 or more days out).

• Nearly 16 percent of teachers are “chronically absent,” or miss 18 or more days of school a year. Another 16 percent of teachers missed just three or fewer days.

• Teachers in the highest-poverty schools were generally no more likely to be absent than those in schools with fewer disadvantaged students—a finding that conflicts with prior research.

Attendance rates didn’t seem to differ based on whether or not districts used incentives, such as payment for unused sick leave or including attendance as an element in teachers’ evaluations.

A version of this article appeared in the June 11, 2014 edition of Education Week as Teacher-Absence Rates Found Vary Across Big-City School Districts

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