Teachers in the USA's largest school districts missed an average of 11 days, according to a report on teacher attendance released Tuesday.
The study from the National Council on Teacher Quality looked at attendance for more than 234,000 teachers in 40 districts during the 2012-13 year and found that 16% of all teachers were classified as chronically absent because they missed 18 days or more.
"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," said Kate Walsh, president of the Washington think tank that advocates for reform in recruiting, retaining and compensating teachers. It receives its money from private foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Nancy Waymack, the council's managing director for district policy and co-author of the report, said teacher absences affect student achievement.
"No matter how engaging or talented they are, teachers can only have an impact if they are in the classroom," she said.
Among the cities with the lowest average teacher absences: Indianapolis; Washington, D.C.; Louisville; Milwaukee; and Tampa. Those with the highest teacher absences were Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Nashville; Portland, Ore.; and Jacksonville.
"Most of the time, teachers are showing up like clockwork. They have a 94% attendance rate at the districts we studied, but it varies significantly from teacher to teacher," Waymack said.