Teachers are often criticized for taking too much time off from school, but a new report gives teachers in 40 of the country’s largest cities a 94 percent attendance rate for the 2012/2013 school year.
But the report, conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality, also found areas of concern. It called on school administrators to make teacher attendance a higher priority than it is now.
Teachers in Baltimore scored slightly better, with an attendance rating of nearly 95 percent in 2012/2013. Their absences averaged just over ten days that year. But the report points out that student achievement starts to decline when a teacher’s absence hits the 10-day point.
The report also found that about 500 of the district’s more than 4,400 teachers missed fewer than three days of classes, but slightly more than 600 were absent 18 or more days. If they were students, in most states, they’d be considered chronically absent. In Maryland, they would have to miss 20 days to be chronically absent.
Council officials say those absences cost districts about $1,800 a year for each teacher they employ. That would come to about $8 million for Baltimore City schools.
The report did not find any correlation between high levels of teacher absences and the income level of their students. In the past, some reports have connected teachers being absent a lot to schools that have a large population of low-income students. An example in support of the study would be more affluent Baltimore County, which had about the same teacher attendance rate, 95 percent, as city schools, where poverty is prevalent.* The study also did not find a connection between districts that have adopted formal policies to encourage attendance and those that do not have any in place.
It did find that to discourage absences, some districts are not limiting the number of unused sick days they pay teachers when they retire. Baltimore city pays its teachers for unused sick days at the end of each year.
*This sentence was added since this story was first published.