The AJC has an interesting piece this morning on absenteeism among metro Atlanta teachers. The story by education writer Ty Tagami and database specialist Kelly Guckian is subscriber only and will not appear online so I can’t share a link. But I can provide a summary.
The AJC analyzed metro Atlanta attendance data for the past three years and found that teachers in nearly all districts missed on average more than 10 days due to illness, training, personal leave or jury duty. Sickness was the most common cause.
The story examines whether “mental health” days are increasing because of class size, diminishing respect and increasing responsibilities and accountability.
“It used to be that teachers only worried about teaching,” said Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators. “Now, they have to worry about paperwork, evaluations, test scores, data management, keeping your students happy and keeping your parents happy. There’s so much more on teachers, that I think it’s contributed to absences.”
The piece says that research shows that when a teacher misses school, students learn less. Research suggests that the impact of a teacher missing 10 days a year compared with one who has perfect attendance is like the difference between a new teacher and one with three to four years experience.
Here is a brief snippet of the story:
“Nationally, teachers are out one day a month” or about 10 days a year, said education researcher Raegen Miller, whose work on teacher absence is widely cited. “If in Georgia it’s more than that, that inevitably raises the question — what’s going on?”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzed data reported by school systems to the Georgia Department of Education. The newspaper also used the state Open Records law to obtain figures on how much money each school district spent on substitute teachers.
Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest system in Georgia, was the only large metro district to match the national average in each of the past three years. Elsewhere, though, the rates were higher. Last year, for instance, in Atlanta Public Schools and in Fulton and DeKalb counties, teachers were absent on average about 13 days. They were out 11 days in Cobb County.
Studies show a link between teacher absence and lower student test scores, especially in math — something that students, parents and educators have always known.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog