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MPS teachers show up more than big-city peers

  • Blog Post by: Steve Brandt
  • June 3, 2014 - 12:24 AM

Minneapolis teachers are showing up in classrooms at a better rate than their peers in big-city districts elsewhere.

They also have a better attendance rate than their students.

A comparison among 40 districts in the biggest metro areas found that Minneapolis ranked eighth-best with district teachers in the classroom 95.07 percent of the time during the 2012-2013 school year. That's according to the National Council on Teacher Quality, which said it advocates for "restructuring the teaching profession." It said that average attendance among the 40 districts was 94 percent. The best rate was Indianapolis with 96.7 percent; Cleveland was worst at 91.5 percent.

The district uses a standard of 95 percent attendance for its students, but only 57.5 percent of students meet that standard.

The district declined comment on the attendance numbers through a spokesman, and there was no immediate comment from the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. 

The teacher attendance figures are somewhat misleading in that they measured only time that teachers were in class, but not necessarily when they were on the job doing other tasks. Those could include training during the work day or doing union duties.

The NCTQ's larger point is that the more teachers are absent, the worse their students fare. It based that conclusion on 2007 research by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study looked only at short-term absences, those of 10 or fewer days, for teachers actually assigned to classrooms.  NCTQ said it did so in order to exclude maternity and paternity leaves and those for serious illness.  Although the study looked generally at the largest districts in each metro area, it did not include data on St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin districts, both of which are larger than Minneapolis. Nor did it include charter school attendance, which NCTQ's Nancy Waymack, managing director for district quality, attributed to small sample sizes.

The research found nationally that about 16 percent of teachers with the worst attendance (absent 18 days or more) were responsible for more than one-third of absences. In Minneapolis, some 11.5 percent of teachers fell into the worst attendance bracket, accounting for 29 percent of absences.

Waymack's data found that teachers at low-poverty (under 20 percent) schools in Minneapolis averaged 10 days away from their classrooms, compared to nine days for all other schools, including those with more than 81 percent poverty. That's the opposite of what national data found, although the differences in both cases were slight. 

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