How Insights Drive an Instruction

 [Case Study]

Absence Management at atlanta public Schools

How Actionable Insights Drive an Instruction-focused Employee Absence Management Strategy

 

The Results:

 

Avg. Fill Rates  

96

Average fill rates have risen from 79% with the district’s prior system to 96% since switching to Frontline Absence & Time.

Longer Lead Times

576

576 of 600 absences for the first professional development series were entered into the system two weeks in advance, resulting in a 99% fill rate.

PD Absences  

Professional development absences decreased by 10% overall, and by 55% on Mondays and Fridays.

As part of their strategy to focus on strong instructional practices in the classroom, Atlanta Public Schools provides intensive, targeted professional development for their educators.

But with insights from Frontline Absence & Time and the Frontline Research & Learning Institute, district leaders discovered their initiative was taking teachers out of the classroom — leaving the district vulnerable to low fill rates and substitute shortages. By comparing the district’s employee absence and substitute data to national benchmarks, Atlanta Public Schools was able to create a collaborative, data-driven strategy and continue providing a high level of professional development.

 
 
Step 1: Benchmarking their data.

Atlanta Public Schools saw their average fill rate rise from 79% with their previous system to 96% with Frontline Absence & Time. But after comparing their data to statistics from the Institute, administrators at Atlanta Public Schools found that they directly caused or approved 32% of employee absences — 14% over the national average. Altogether, these professionally related absences added up to an average of 4.83 days per employee requiring a substitute, or 1.5 days per year more than the national average.

 
 

Professionally Related Absences

 

ATL Step1 Percent Abs

Avg. Number of Professionally Related Absences
(2015-16 School Year)

 

ATL Step1 Fill Rate

 


 

These professionally related absences could cost the district $1.8 million in substitute wages in just one year — but the monetary costs were only a small part of the problem. When a teacher was out for professionally related reasons and a substitute couldn’t be found, the lost instructional time was estimated at over 90,000 total student days. Atlanta Public Schools knew that to save money and maximize instructional time, they would need to strategically manage the absences caused or approved by the district itself.

 
 

Step 2: Exploring insights.

 
 
 

ATL Step2 PD Absence Pie

 

Digging deeper into the reasons behind employee absences, Atlanta Public Schools found that 16% of all absences requiring substitutes were aligned to professional development — unsurprising, given their investment in educator growth. Then, district leaders looked into the impact of these high absence rates on substitute coverage. They were astonished to learn that many professionally related absences were being reported on short notice, even though the events were planned well in advance.

 

Professionally Related Absences that Require a Sub by Lead Time

ATL Step2 Sub Lead Time Bar

 

Fill Rate by Absence Lead Time for Professionally Related Absences

ATL Step2 Fill Rate Lead Time Line

 

These insights offered a starting point for their new absence management strategy: focusing on reducing the impact of absences caused by the district itself.

 
 
 

Step 3: Focus on controllable PD absences​.

 
 

 

District leaders reviewed all PD-related procedures and guidelines to identify areas where they could reduce absences and increase lead time. First, they developed a needs assessment with the Office of Academics and identified professional development that could be offered in a strategic and coordinated fashion. They piloted a district-wide PD plan with a “narrow and deep” focus, providing release-time for individual grade levels (K-5). Each grade would have two days in the fall and two more in the spring specifically for professional development.

Because they knew that each day would require up to 120 substitutes, administrators planned these dates for months with the lowest number of absences to ensure the maximum number of available substitutes. These dates were coordinated with the substitute office, and more substitutes were hired in late July and given assignments as soon as the PD dates were confirmed.

Thoughtfully coordinating these professional development opportunities with the district’s substitute program in mind led to a 10% decrease in PD absences, and a 55% decrease on Mondays and Fridays.

Thoughtfully coordinating professional development opportunities with the district’s substitute program in mind led to a 10% decrease in PD absences, and a 55% decrease on Mondays and Fridays.
 
 

Step 4: Promote longer lead times​.

 

 

Atlanta Public Schools knew that lead times would be an important part of their strategy for maximizing instructional time without compromising on professional development.

By communicating the need for longer lead times to their teachers, administrators were better equipped to coordinate substitute coverage, and employees knew the importance of reporting absences ahead of time. With Frontline Absence & Time, educators are able to easily submit absence requests in advance. Substitutes can then accept jobs and prepare for the classroom with the help of lesson plans and notes attached directly to each absence.

The district had great success with this initiative, with 96% of the six hundred absences for the first professional development series entered into the system two weeks in advance. This planning and longer lead times resulted in a 99% fill rate across the district.

By communicating the need for longer lead times to their teachers, administrators were better equipped to coordinate substitute coverage...
 
 

Step 5: Support visibility into absences and greater collaboration between administrative personnel​.



With Frontline Absence & Time, administrators at Atlanta Public Schools can increase fill rates and effectively support professionally related absences by customizing their visibility settings. They can also ensure accurate reporting on why staff are out of the classroom, giving them a clear window into what is happening across the district. That high level of visibility supports improved collaboration as well, as the Human Resources department can now easily send the Curriculum & Instruction team weekly reports on upcoming professional absences.

 

Frontline Absence & Time

 

By tracking and managing employee absences with Frontline Absence & Time, Atlanta Public Schools was able to develop a strategy that allowed them to continue providing high levels of professional learning, without causing a substitute crisis.

With our solution, you can:

  • Ensure that absences are covered by qualified substitutes
  • Address trends like high absence days and absenteeism
  • Explore enhanced reporting and get a better view of what’s happening across the district
  • See how your district stacks up against others in your state, nationwide or the same size

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