Sure it’s summer and classrooms are empty for now, but it’s still worth taking note that, every year it seems our kids are staying away from school in droves. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2016 update, more than 6.5 million students are chronically absent, missing 15 or more days. Reasons include:
- Physical health and such conditions as asthma, obesity, and chronic pain
- Mental health issues including anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, and depression
- Perceptions of the school culture, including feeling unsupported or disrespected by teachers and/or being bullied by peers
- Parent/family situations, such as single parents, parental unemployment, and socioeconomic status
- Homelessness: Just 77% of such children attend school regularly
- Placement in such protective services as foster care
- School conditions and climate, including its heating/cooling and ventilation systems and structural integrity
- Relationships with teachers and administrators
- Academic engagement and achievement
As it turns out, however, they’re not the only ones not showing up, not by a long shot…
No, indeed. According to a National Council on Teacher Quality report issued in June, 2014, on average, America’s teachers miss 11 days of school each year, amounting to a show-up rate of just 94%. Then do the math, and you’ll see just how bad that really is.
Simply multiply the average number of missed days per annum by the number of years kids are in school, K-12: 11 x 13 = 143 days with a substitute, translating to 6% of those years.
Just think about that for a minute: The typical school year runs about 180 days, so missing the average 143 days over a span of 13 years is the equivalent of missing one full school year, less 27 days. And, as any student—or teacher, for that matter–will tell you, lesson plans left for subs usually consist of tests or some sort of busywork. In other words, a substitute is no substitute for one’s teacher and the instruction/learning that would have taken place otherwise.
Remember, too, that 11 days is just the average. On top of that, 16% of all teachers nationwide, like those 6.5 million students, are “chronically absent,” missing more than 15 days a year.
Indeed, here in Philly, a recent analysis found that:
· 118 schools had attendance rates below 95% (11 days)
· 17 schools had attendance rates below 90% (18 days)
· 4 schools had attendance rates below 85% (27 days)
You get the picture…