The unhappiness of CCSD teachers, Part 1

Are teachers in Nevada’s traditional public schools the least happy teachers in America?

A graphic published online in June 2016 by Education Week — portraying the chronic absenteeism, by state, of public-school teachers around the country — would seem to suggest so.

[Index to Parts 1-4]

On the map, Nevada is darkest of all the states, reflecting its highest-in-the-nation teacher-absenteeism rates.

Education Week published a similar map online in 2016, two years previously.

On both maps, the states are shaded to reflect the data on chronic teacher absenteeism reported by their schools to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

That office defines “chronic” absenteeism as absences taken for either sick or personal leave, for more than 10 days in a school year — not counting professional-development days, school holidays or summer vacations.

For the Clark County School District, where its schools reported 10,553 of their 17,985 teachers absent during the 2015 survey year, that yields an exceptionally high chronic absenteeism rate of 59 percent.

Moreover, because some three-quarters of Silver State students attend CCSD schools, Nevada’s statewide public-school teacher absenteeism rates are the highest in the U.S.

Not only is chronic teacher absenteeism strongly correlated with subpar educational achievement among students, as researchers have frequently found, it thus also signals public-school dysfunctionality to sophisticated parents and corporations considering relocation or investment in Nevada.

Nevada also received additional attention in a September 2017 study published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. That study sought to understand the teacher absenteeism rates of traditional public schools by comparing them with the absenteeism rates of charter schools in the same state.

Of states with the largest absenteeism gaps between teachers in traditional public schools and teachers in charter schools, Hawaii topped the list, and Nevada was second.

In the Aloha State, over three-quarters (79 percent) of traditional public school teachers were chronically absent, while at charters within the state the rate was much lower, at 23 percent — yielding a significant gap of 56 percentage points.

In the Silver State, with 51 percent of traditional public school teachers out more than 10 school days, and only 9 percent of charter teachers, the gap was 42 percentage points.

By the 2018 EdWeek report, however, Hawaii’s absenteeism rate had dropped, while Nevada’s had not. That left Nevada as the state with the highest teacher absenteeism in the country.

Link to Part 2: Heavy teacher absenteeism directly reduces student learning, while signaling lower teacher morale and dysfunctional school culture.


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