While the concept is intuitive, a recent study has confirmed that teacher absenteeism has a direct and measurable impact on student learning. In a report entitled “Roll Call: The Importance of Teacher Attendance” the National Center on Teacher Quality found that teachers miss on average 11 out of 186 days of school; and one in six teachers has chronic absenteeism with 44% of teachers out more than 10 days per year.
Data maintained by the State of Connecticut Department of Education, though notoriously outdated, shows similar trends in Connecticut. In addition, Connecticut law requires school districts to provide teachers with a minimum of 15 sick days annually — for a 10 month work year! With statistics showing a national average of approximately six sick days per employee (only two of which are bona fide illness), that number seems excessive.
Adding to the problem is the trend in recent years to allow sick days to be used for family illness, as well as the teacher’s own illness.
That all stated, control of excess sick leave utilization remains by and large something which can be controlled by good management practices including:
- Encourage regular attendance and point out the impact on learning to staff
- Regularly reviewing reports of teacher absenteeism
- Considering publishing such reports to put public pressure on teachers to curb any abuse
- Counseling teachers who, in a given year are trending high and do not have a clear injury or illness to explain the anomaly, or who show a pattern of excessive absenteeism over multiple years
- Apply progressive discipline to teachers who do not respond to counseling efforts