Reporting Joe Shortsleeve
BOSTON (CBS) – Nothing is more important to a child’s education than the presence of a good teacher.
Research shows learning goes downhill fast if the teacher is out of the class too frequently.
The I-Team wanted to find out if area high schools were experiencing high rates of teacher absenteeism. This was in the wake of a federal analysis which showed 36% of teachers nationally missed more than 10 days.
Students outside one area high school told us teachers are frequently out of the classroom.
Kate Walsh of the National Council on Teacher Quality said, “When teachers are absent from schools, kids don’t learn. It doesn’t matter why they are absent, whether it’s for professional development, a sick day, a mental health day, but that is learning that is not taking place.”
The I-Team checked absentee rates at dozens of area high schools, compiling days off for sick days, personal days, professional development, religious observations, and any other reason.
Bourne High School topped the list with an average of about 13.5 days out of the classroom per teacher.
High Schools in Woburn, Scituate, Boston, Swampscott, Beverly, Randolph, Salem, Lynn, Foxboro, and Wakefield all averaged more than 10 days out of the classroom per teacher.
|Town Name||Number of Teachers||Teacher Days Missed||Avg # Days Missed Per Teacher|
|Lynn High Schools||244||2,571||10.5|
Walsh said researchers have quantified learning loss can take place when a teacher is absent just three days out of the school year. “They see a drop in the student learning.”
Recent polls show the teaching profession is going thru a period of malaise. In the last five years, the number of teachers who say they are very satisfied with their jobs has declined from 62% to 39%. That is the worst response in 25 years.
“Stressed teachers feel they have less control and that everyone is always evaluating them,” said Professor Andy Hargreaves of Boston College.
Hargreaves believes administrators need to examine whether their overall culture is toxic and “teachers feel on their own, and badly led.”
Dr. Stephen Russell, Superintendent of the Salem Schools, told the I-Team he is concerned by our findings. He has now launched a review of attendance in all Salem schools, not just the high school.
Dr. Russell said he is constrained by union contracts which allow teachers 15 sick days a year. “I am sure if we were to negotiate those contracts fresh today, I am sure the benefits package would not be as generous.”
In these cash strapped times, there is also a financial concern. By one estimate, school districts around the country spend about 4 billion dollars a year on substitutes which is money that could obviously be used elsewhere.