Oct 16, 2008

Teacher Absences vs. Student Achievement

My son's teacher has been absent ten days during the last month. This means that for the past 30 days, 1/3 of his school instruction has been administered by substitute teachers {at least 4 different ones that I am aware of}.

Substitutes are just that, substitutes. Generally they are not familiar with the day-to-day routine of the classroom, are not familiar with the students and definitely cannot call on them by name.

This has created quite a problem for my ADHD/LD son. Like most ADHD/LD children, he thrives on routine. He comes home all out of sorts because his day has been "terrible," a.k.a. chaotic and unorganized. I listen intently and try to empathize with him. However, this is of little comfort to him.

I am certain his regular teacher leaves lesson plans for the substitute, but that still isn't the same. Every teacher has their own unique style of teaching and interacts with students differently. In addition, the sub is not familiar with the material the students have been studying. Therefore, it is inevitable that student's grades will suffer.

10 days of teacher absence is equivalent to a student drawing a rookie teacher rather than a second-year teacher. ---CEA

My question is... Why are student absences more closely watched than teacher's? I think it is just as important for teachers to show up regularly as it is for students. Do you agree? Should there be consequences for excessive teacher absences?


  1. Of course there are consequences for teachers being excessively absent. I'm sure it's written into the district's teaching contract that teachers are allowed only a certain number of sick and personal days per year. In the district where I teach it's 7 sick days and 3 personal days. If you go beyond this, you typically lose pay and if it is to excessive, disciplinary action would be taken. However, there are several situations where these absences would be appropriate and excused from the district's standpoint. The first that comes to mind is if this teacher has a specific medical condition that prevents her from working occasionally. In this case the school district would be require to allow her time off under the same laws that protect all persons with disabilities and health problems. Another situation would be one in which she was not actually absent those days, but was engaged in some sort of professional development or curriculum development or something of that sort where she is working for the district outside of the classroom on those days. I am engaged in one such project at the district where I work, where I am out of the classroom for a half day once a month to meet with other teachers to develop cross-curricular writing instruction methods. Anyway, I'm just saying, there may be more to this that just a teacher shirking his/her responsibilities.

  2. All of the schools where I taught gave a total of 6 days per year. Extra days could be saved for the next years.

    Reasons for excessive absences that I have had:

    My dad died and had to return home to another state.


    School related training. I was the campus learning facilitator and was gone one week each semester for training. Oh, I wasn't a classroom teacher at the time.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love comments and feedback!