More than two-thirds of Duval County teachers were “frequently absent” or worse during the 2012-2013 school year, according to a new study by the National Center for Teaching Quality.
Nearly half of teachers in Orange County schools missed at least 11 days of school — which NCTQ says is “frequently absent” — while 30 percent of Hillsborough County teachers missed that number of days.
Nationally, teachers were in their classrooms 94 percent of the time. The average teacher missed 11 days of school. Jacksonville and Orlando teachers missed more time, on average, while Tampa teachers missed less time than the study’s average teacher.
But the study found that teachers at high-poverty schools were not more likely to miss time than teachers at lower-poverty schools.
NCTQ collected 2012-2013 teacher absence data from 40 of 51 school districts in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. The study excluded teachers who had long-term absences due to illness or family reasons. Miami-Dade schools did not provide the data as requested by NCTQ, and were not included in the study.
“While these big city school districts are struggling to improve student achievement, they may be overlooking one of the most basic aspects of teacher effectiveness: every teacher being regularly on the job, teaching kids,” NCTQ president Kate Walsh said in a statement.
Some of the absences were “district authorized,” which meant teachers were attending professional development, curriculum training or other school-related duties. Walsh said districts should limit these absences.
The study also found policies intended to reduce absences — such as requiring a doctor’s note — did little to reduce absences. More effective, Walsh said, were principals and administrators who set clear expectations for teachers.
“Research has shown a significant negative impact on student achievement in classrooms where the teacher is absent for ten days,” the report concludes. “Yet in the average classroom in this study, teachers exceeded this level of absence, often for perfectly legitimate reasons and even in pursuit of becoming a more effective instructor.”