The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recently found teacher absences in Oklahoma City averaged 11 days in 2013, and 18 percent of teachers missed more than 18 days, as reported earlier this month in The Oklahoman.
The NCTQ is one of many astroturf think tanks that publishes paper after paper designed to make teachers look bad. It keeps up the drumbeat denying the existence of a teacher shortage. I suspect that is why the NCTQ database included days lost to professional development in its study. That dubious methodological decision gave them an opportunity to overstate the national teacher absenteeism rate by up to 29 percent (by including professional leave and “other” in the total teacher absences due to sick and personal leave). By the way, the number of teachers included in the NCTQ database is around 10 percent smaller than the number of teachers in the OKCPS database.
Assuming that the national average applies at least roughly to the OKCPS — if the NCTQ published the data in a fair manner — The Oklahoman’s lede would have been that the average OKCPS teacher misses about eight days per year due to illness or personal and family circumstances and is pulled out of the classroom three days a year by the system. Combine the two metrics and OKCPS teachers still have a 94 percent attendance rate. Those statistics would be average for the nation. They would seem unremarkable, and the story on teacher absences wouldn’t make the front page.