More than 1 in 4 full-time teachers are chronically absent from school, according to the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The department labels teachers who miss 10 or more days per school year as “chronically absent.”
A recent analysis of this data by Education Week found that teacher absenteeism varies from state to state. The data suggests that more than 6.5 million students attended a school in the 2013-2014 school year where at least half of the teachers missed 10 or more days of school. Hawaii had the highest absentee rate, with 75 percent of teachers taking more than 10 days off. Utah had the lowest amount of chronically absent teachers with just 16 percent of teachers taking 10 or more days off.
In Kansas and Missouri, 20-29 percent of teachers were chronically absent.
Incentives for Teacher Attendance
To determine if attendance incentives work to deter teacher absenteeism, the National Center for Teaching Quality analyzed teacher attendance policies of the 40 largest school districts in the country. Each district had their own unique policies, from rewarding perfect attendance to those that discourage teachers from taking too much time off.
They found no correlation between these policies and teacher absences.
More Support for Substitute Teachers Needed
As chronically absent teachers increase, the importance of substitute teachers cannot be understated. But most agree that school districts could do more to prepare for teacher absences to help keep students on track academically.
The National Substitute Teachers Alliance (NSTA) recommends building closer working relationships between substitutes and teachers.
“It’s very much sink or swim,” Jim Politis, head of the NSTA, said. “Retired teachers generally have very little trouble dealing with a class and improvising even if it’s not their subject area — but most substitutes are not former teachers, and there’s no differentiation in the preparation for substitutes depending on their background.”
To better prepare substitute teachers, some school districts in Kansas and Missouri have established a partnership with MHED, a provider of substitute teacher staffing solutions. At MHED, all new substitute teachers go through an orientation that includes professional development for new substitute teachers. There are also ongoing professional development opportunities for all MHED substitute teachers.
To learn more, contact MHED today.