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Are Teacher Absences Worth Worrying About in the United States?

Author

Listed:
  • Charles T. Clotfelter

    () (Department of Economics, Duke University)

  • Helen F. Ladd

    () (Department of Economics, Duke University)

  • Jacob L. Vigdor

    () (Department of Economics, Duke University)

Abstract

Using detailed data from North Carolina, we examine the frequency, incidence, and consequences of teacher absences in public schools as well as the impact of a policy designed to reduce absences. The incidence of teacher absences is regressive: when schools are ranked by the fraction of students receiving free or reduced price lunches, teachers in the lowest income quartile average almost one extra sick day per school year than teachers in the highest income quartile, and schools with persistently high rates of teacher absence were much more likely to serve low-income than high-income students. In regression models incorporating teacher fixed effects, absences are associated with lower student achievement in elementary grades. Finally, we present evidence that the demand for discretionary absences is price elastic. Our estimates suggest that a policy intervention that simultaneously raises teacher base salaries and broadens financial penalties for absences could both raise teachers' expected incomes and lower districts' expected costs. © 2009 American Education Finance Association

Suggested Citation

  • Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2009. "Are Teacher Absences Worth Worrying About in the United States?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 4(2), pages 115-149, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:4:y:2009:i:2:p:115-149
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    File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/edfp.2009.4.2.115
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    6. Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2007. "The Impact of Length of the School Year on Student Performance and Earnings: Evidence From the German Short School Years," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(523), pages 1216-1242, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ost, Ben & Schiman, Jeffrey C., 2017. "Workload and teacher absence," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 20-30.
    2. Gershenson, Seth & Jacknowitz, Alison & Brannegan, Andrew, 2015. "Are Student Absences Worth the Worry in U.S. Primary Schools?," IZA Discussion Papers 9558, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    4. Seth Gershenson & Alison Jacknowitz & Andrew Brannegan, 2017. "Are Student Absences Worth the Worry in U.S. Primary Schools?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 12(2), pages 137-165, Spring.
    5. Rockoff, Jonah E. & Lockwood, Benjamin B., 2010. "Stuck in the middle: Impacts of grade configuration in public schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1051-1061, December.
    6. Joshua D. Angrist & Erich Battistin & Daniela Vuri, 2014. "In a Small Moment: Class Size and Moral Hazard in the Mezzogiorno," FBK-IRVAPP Working Papers 2014-04, Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies (IRVAPP), Bruno Kessler Foundation.
    7. Michael Baker, 2013. "Industrial actions in schools: strikes and student achievement," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(3), pages 1014-1036, August.
    8. Hayes, Michael S. & Gershenson, Seth, 2016. "What differences a day can make: Quantile regression estimates of the distribution of daily learning gains," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 48-51.
    9. Gershenson, Seth, 2012. "How do substitute teachers substitute? An empirical study of substitute-teacher labor supply," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 410-430.
    10. Joshua Goodman, 2014. "Flaking Out: Student Absences and Snow Days as Disruptions of Instructional Time," Working Paper 141961, Harvard University OpenScholar.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    teacher absences; North Carolina;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid

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