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National Alliance Statement on Teacher Absenteeism in Charter and Traditional Public Schools

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a new study, Teacher Absenteeism in Charter and Traditional Public Schools, which finds that teachers in traditional public schools are almost three times as likely to be chronically absent as teachers in charter schools. This trend holds true in 34 out of 35 states with a sizable charter school sector and in all ten of the nation’s largest cities.

Chronic teacher absenteeism, defined as missing more than ten days per year due to sick or personal leave, has been a topic of renewed interest as states formulate and submit their new ESSA accountability plans. Previous research has found a strong relationship between chronic teacher absenteeism and student achievement. This report, based on available 2013-14 data, builds on the previous research by looking at chronic absenteeism rates in traditional and charter public schools, analyzing the influence of collective bargaining laws and teacher contracts, and comparing unionized and non-unionized charter schools. 

National Alliance’s Vice President of Research, Susan Pendergrass released the following statement in response to the study:

“The Fordham Institute’s recent study, Teacher Absenteeism in Charter and Traditional Public Schools, reminds us of what a critical role teachers play in the success of their classrooms. Several prior studies have found a strong connection between teacher absenteeism and student achievement. In fact, there appears to be a one-to-one relationship: a ten-day increase in teacher absence results in at least a ten-day learning loss for students. Although the study concludes that the chronic absenteeism rate is markedly lower for charter school teachers than for traditional public school teachers, students are the ones who lose when their teacher is excessively absent.”

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About Public Charter Schools 
Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools 
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit www.publiccharters.org.