A mixed method analysis of the interaction between teacher variables, teacher absences, school district policies, and student achievement

Glenn Woodrow Dillehay, Tennessee State University


Teacher absenteeism is expensive, disrupts the continuity of educational activities, and results in students attending classes with less qualified substitute teachers. The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationships among teacher variables, teacher absenteeism, student achievement, and school district policy governing teacher absenteeism. The teacher variables included gender, ethnicity, years of teaching experience, highest degree attained, and type of teaching license. Using a sequential mixed methods approach, data were collected on 50 fourth to eighth grade teachers. Their students' math and reading/language arts (RLA) scores on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) were used to measure student achievement. Teacher interviews were conducted to gather data regarding the issues surrounding teacher absenteeism. The school district's leave policies were analyzed to determine whether they were consistent with recommendations from the literature review. Three null hypotheses were tested using Pearson's product-moment correlations. More experienced teachers had statistically significantly higher absence rates, and students of teachers with advanced degrees scored statistically significantly higher on both TCAP math and RLA subtests than teachers with only bachelor's degrees. Students of more experienced teachers scored significantly higher on the TCAP math subtest, while students of less experienced teachers scored significantly higher on the TCAP RLA subtest. There was no statistically significant relationship between the total number of teacher absences and student achievement. Teachers reported in the interviews that substitute teachers are less effective than classroom teachers and that teachers have a "use it or lose it" mentality regarding sick leave. An analysis of the leave policies found that the district employs a substitute coordinator, has a sick leave bank, and does not uniformly require teachers to report absences directly to their respective principals, all of which stand in contrast to the recommendations from the literature. It is recommended that the participating school district hire experienced math teachers with advanced degrees and offer a financial incentive program to reduce teacher absences. The participating school district should maintain its sick leave bank for ethical reasons and continue to employ its substitute coordinator to maximize efficiency. Future research should examine a school system with a large, diverse population.

Subject Area

Middle School education|Education Policy|School administration|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Glenn Woodrow Dillehay, "A mixed method analysis of the interaction between teacher variables, teacher absences, school district policies, and student achievement" (2012). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3552775.