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National Employee Absence & Substitute Data

2017-2018 School Year

View last year's 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

Insight: As the school year gets underway, the average number of absences trended upwards in October across all employee groups.

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

Percentage of Absences by Reason

Insight: Illness continues to be the leading cause of all employee absences, although absences for professionally related reasons increased slightly in October.

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.

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 school-level 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 Teacher Fill Rate*

Insight: As the average number of absences rose in October, fill rates for teacher absences fell for every institution type and setting. View Breakdown

Average Teacher Fill Rate - By Institution Type



Average Teacher Fill Rate - All Buildings

*Fill rate indicates the percentage of teacher 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.

Teacher Fill Rate by Absence Lead Time*

Insight: Increasing absence lead times, particularly for professionally related absences planned in advance, could help improve fill rates.

*Based on data from teacher absences only. 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.

Teacher Fill Rate by Day of Week*

Insight: Mondays and Fridays — the highest absence days — continued to have the lowest fill rates. Fill rates tended to be highest on Wednesdays, which may be a good time to schedule activities requiring release time.

  • 21%
  • 18%
  • 20%
  • 20%
  • 21%
  • 19%
  • 18%
  • 19%
  • 20%
  • 23%
  • 22%
  • 18%
  • 18%
  • 19%
  • 23%

*Based on data from teacher absences only.


Percentage of Non-Working Substitutes

Insight: The most active substitute pools were found in larger districts, which correspondingly tended to have higher fill rates.

Average Number of Days Worked 3 per Substitute*

Insight: In October, fill rates fell as absence rates rose and not enough substitutes worked more days to compensate.

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

*Based on average number of days worked per substitute for teacher absences only

Average Teacher to Sub Ratio

Insight: When viewing substitute ratios by fill rate, the correlation between lower teacher to substitute ratios and higher fill rates becomes quite apparent.

Average teacher/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 Illness Related Absences

Insight: So far, illness-related absences have correlated with influenza-like illness activity, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With flu season yet to peak, it will be interesting to see if this pattern continues.

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%.

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).

Data Validation

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

Month/Year 8/17 9/17 10/17 11/17 12/17 1/18 2/18 3/18 4/18 5/18 6/18
Total # of Organizations 5,565 5,593 5,599                

In this report, district size definitions are as follows:

  • Small: 1 to 100 employees
  • Medium: 101 to 1000 employees
  • Large: 1,001 to 2,500 employees
  • Extra large: 2,501 employees or more

In this report, locale (rural, suburban, town, city) is defined based on definitions from NCES.