Teacher, student absences could lead to slower learning, studies - KMOV.com

Teacher, student absences could lead to slower learning, studies show

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Your child's education could be lacking because of "chronic absenteeism," according to a study by the U.S. Department of Elementary and Secondary.

The study found nearly 25 percent of Missouri and Illinois public school teachers are deemed "chronically absent," missing 10 days or more a school year based on data collected from the 2013-2014 school year. That data was released this year.

However, Research done in 2007 found when students are absent it has a similar impact on their education.

The teacher absenteeism study did not include the reasons why teachers are missing class, so Cahokia School Superintendent Art Ryan said it could be anything from an illness to maternity leave to bereavement.

“Ten days does sound like a lot and it probably is, but in the greater scheme of things in the 180 school days - the different things that come up I don't know if it's going to have that massive of an impact,” said Ryan.  “Would we rather it be that all of our teachers be there every day? Certainly, but we have to live in a realistic world.”

However, teachers are human, said Ryan. He adds many teachers have children and families they need to take care of as well. Ryan would like to know the absence numbers for other professions.

According to the research, Ryan’s district had the highest teacher absences in the St. Louis area, with 66 percent. Other area districts included Ladue at 64 percent, Hazelwood 58 percent, and University City 53 percent.   

Districts with the lowest teacher absences were Riverview Gardens at 4 percent, East St. Louis and St. Louis Public Schools with 5 percent, and Webster Groves with 6 percent.

All those numbers are from the U.S. Department of Education and Education Week Research. According to Jim Bradshaw, who works in the press office for the U.S. Department of Education, this is the first time teacher data has been collected.

For the most part, teachers are showing up every day, based on the study’s findings, but some districts have a small group that are not. Research with the U.S. Department of Education and the Education Week Research Center reveals a decrease on student education - when absences are factored in - based on test scores researchers collected.

Ryan said although it’s clear that students don’t get the individualized instruction that comes with knowing each students’ needs, other factors play a role too.

“If it’s a sick day here and there it probably doesn’t have as much effect as someone who has be out at two to three weeks at a time where there’s a big break in it and that connection is kind of lost,” said Ryan. “In a successful classroom the teachers are going to generate a good rapport with their kids and there’s going to be a connection that helps with the education. When you look at it though, students are absent as well, they make up work and they have to keep that going."

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