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Hawaii Department of Education Disputes Claim That 75 Percent of State’s Teachers Are Absent 10 or More Days a Year

Hawaii Department of Education Disputes Claim That 75 Percent of State’s Teachers Are Absent 10 or More Days a Year

No matter what the circumstance, chronic absenteeism is a bad thing. A new report from Education Week claims that in Hawaii, 75 percent of the state’s educator workforce is absent ten or more days a year.

According to numerous studies, learning loss starts happening when a teacher is absent after just five. So, naturally, news that most of a state’s teachers are absent for ten or more days is pretty alarming, especially in a state that’s made news for other issues recently, such as hiring staff.

A 2014 article from U.S. News describes why frequent teacher absences is such a cause for concern.

Not only do teachers who are absent more than 10 school days put their students in a position to suffer learning loss, they also can disrupt the entire flow of operations at school. Seeing as substitute teachers are considered “an endangered breed,” forcing a school to rely on a short supply of subs can be an increasingly difficult burden.

Hawaii’s Department of Education isn’t taking the news lightly. The day after Education Week released its findings, Hawaii News Now is reporting on the DOE’s response.

Said Hawaii News Now today: "the Hawaii teachers union and the state Department of Education...suspect the study is based on flawed numbers”

But a reporter for Education Week, Sarah Sparks, told the news source she has little doubt the state’s problem is a systemic one, thanks in part to a high number of sick days provided in teachers’ contracts. Sparks said Hawaii’s teachers may use up to 18 days a year of sick leave.

Still, Hawaii’s DOE is not convinced that the data is accurate. Last year, a similar report ranked Hawaii second in a list of states with the most teacher absences, but it was invalid because it included days off for school-related events.

The DOE said it suspects this data, as well, has discrepancies and will be in communication with Education Week to discuss.

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

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