Nearly 1 in 4 Illinois teachers have 10-plus absent days

CHICAGO (AP) — Data shows almost one in four public school teachers in Illinois miss more than 10 days of the school year.

The annual Illinois Report Card shows that 23.5 percent of public school teachers are absent more than 10 days in the school year, the Chicago Tribune reported. Some administrators and teacher union officials have questioned whether the figures are accurate and how they were calculated.

The teacher absence rates ranged widely at some 3,600 public schools, with nearly 1,600 schools, mostly in the Chicago area, faring worse than the state average.

U.S. Department of Education cites research that says children don't do as well when teachers are absent more than 10 days in a school year. Districts also end up spending money to pay substitutes.

Glenview School District's interim superintendent, Griff Powell, said the biggest reasons for the absentee rates in the district were sick days and leaves under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.

"Obviously we want to be respectful of the personal situations that would result in teachers needing to be out of the classrooms for these reasons," Powell said.

Illinois Federation of Teachers spokeswoman Aviva Bowen said the number of sick days and personal days outlined in union contracts varies by district. She said faculty and staff have a very difficult job which is often in a high-stress environment without sufficient resources, and that taking a contractual sick day is to protect the health of their students.

Illinois law requires teacher absences included within the state's report card, which is posted online for the public. The federal government began grouping and publishing data on chronic teacher absences several years ago.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com

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