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National Employee Absence & Substitute Data

About the Report

This report analyzes data from over 5,000 K-12 organizations using Frontline’s absence and substitute management tool. The available data is so comprehensive that the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University has declared it to be representative of national trends.

The report addresses the following objectives:

  • Increase awareness regarding the number of absences that are professionally related
  • Provide data regarding actual trends in professionally related absences
  • Analyze the degree of common understanding between Human Resources and Curriculum and Instruction personnel regarding the incidence and impact of professionally related absences
  • Suggest strategies for reducing these professionally related absences

Interactive Charts: Where applicable, you can filter data by selecting/un-selecting the axis categories. Hover over charts for more details.

 

 
Absence & Fill Rates

Average number of absences1 per employee

 
1.77 (March average number of absences per employee)

  Insight: Since the beginning of the calendar year, the average number of employee absences has continued to rise — particularly with those that do not require a substitute. This trend appears to be driven primarily by small K-12 organizations, as other districts are not experiencing higher-than-average absence rates.

1 "Absence” refers to an absence event, where any individual absence counts as one absence, regardless of duration.

Requiring a sub: Includes only absences for individuals in positions where a substitute is required, whether teachers or other employee types, such as bus drivers. Each continuous absence period counts once, regardless of duration. For instance, a two-hour absence counts the same a full-day absence or a three-day absence.

Not requiring a sub: Includes only absences for individuals in positions where a substitute is not required. Each continuous absence period counts once, regardless of duration. For instance, a two-hour absence counts the same a full-day absence or a three-day absence.


Percentage of absences by reason


Categories marked with an * above are prof. related absences. *The "Other" category for absences may include bereavement, jury duty, military leave, unexcused absences and workers compensation, as well as absences not associated with any reason.

  Insight: Although illness continues to be the driving factor behind the majority of absences, this reason accounted for relatively fewer March absences. This decrease in illness-related absences correlates with influenza-like illness activity leveling off throughout the month.

Professionally related absences: Absences related to an employee’s regular responsibilities that are directed or approved by the organization (district) or school. Unlike personal absences (illness, bereavement, etc.), the individual’s reasons and dates for being absent are directly controlled or approved by organization- or schoollevel leaders.

- What they include: professional development, field trips, association/ bargaining unit work, school business

- What they do not include: illness, vacation, personal time off, bereavement, jury duty, military leave, unexcused absences, workers’ compensation.


Average fill rate*

  Insight: Despite an uptick in the average number of employee absences, fill rates have remained steady for most organizations. Small districts were most likely to see lower fill rates in March, most likely due to the increase in absences seen in those organizations.

*Fill rate indicates the percentage of absences requiring a substitute that were in fact filled by a substitute. The percentage is calculated by dividing the number of filled absences by the number of absences that required a substitute.


Fill rate by absence lead time*

  Insight: Low fill rates might be avoidable by increasing the lead time for professionally related absences, which are typically planned weeks in advance. The low fill rates seen in February and March may be influenced by short lead times.

*Absence lead time refers to the number of days between when an absence occurs and when it is entered into Frontline Absence & Time. An absence with zero days of lead time is entered on the same day it occurs.


Fill rate by day of week

Show data for:

  Insight: Throughout the year, we have seen fill rates consistently rise during the middle of the week, and March is no exception. However, a large jump in the percentage of absences scheduled for Fridays correlated with the lowest fill rates of the week. In addition, Mondays continued to have the second-lowest fill rates, despite not being a particularly high-absence day — suggesting that substitutes choose not to accept jobs scheduled for the first day of the week.

 
Substitutes

Percentage of non-working substitutes

Show data for:

  Insight: Although there has not been significant change over the past three months in the percent of non-working substitutes, we continue to see a wide disparity in this statistic when viewed by organization size and locale.

2 Substitute pools refer to the number of substitutes hired to work in the district. When looking at sub pool health, we reviewed how often substitutes are working in the district. We also looked at the correlation between the percentage of non-working substitutes and district fill rates.


Average number of days worked 3 per substitute

  Insight: Substitutes work more to keep up with the increase in employee absences.

3 “Days worked” represents absences substitutes filled at one district, even if they work at multiple districts.


Average employee to sub ratio

Show data for:

Average Employee/Sub Ratio
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)

  Insight: Lower employee to substitute ratios generally relate to higher fill rates, and January reflected this trend — unlike December, which had a low employee to substitute ratio and low fill rates.


Average illness related absences


Source for % flu related outpatient visits: “Weekly U.S. Influenza Report”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

*Significant dips in the avg # of illnesses corresponds to school vacation times (Thanksgiving and December holiday breaks).

  Insight: The data indicates that illness-related absences are loosely aligned to influenza rates.
 
  Note: Influenza activity, determined by the percent of visits to outpatient healthcare facilities for influenza-like illness, is reported on a weekly basis by the CDC. The national baseline for this metric is 2.2%.

Data Validation

Data includes public school districts, educational service agencies and charter and private schools.

  August September October November December January February March
Organizations                
Total # of Orgs 5,284 5,289 5,226 5,232 5,239 5,247 5,220 5,256