Report Enables Districts to Gauge Their Talent Management Strategies Against National Averages and Organizations of Like Size and Geography

Malvern, Pa. – October 3, 2018 – The Frontline Research & Learning Institute today released the 2017-2018 National Absence & Hiring Trends report that reveals important insights about the state of K-12 employee absences, substitute management and hiring over the last three years.

“For the first time, the report combines nationally representative absence and hiring data to help K-12 education leaders think about and address critical talent management issues,” says Elizabeth Combs, Managing Director, Frontline Research & Learning Institute. “Our hope is that this will help them evaluate their own efforts against national averages and districts of like size and locale.”

The report revealed that districts continue to be challenged by the substitute shortage. Even though employees requiring a substitute were absent less often during the 2017-2018 school year (10.99 percent) as compared to 2016-2017 (11.16 percent) and 2015-2016 (11.73 percent), fill rates fell (82 percent) as substitutes worked fewer days on average (32 percent), and nearly half of all substitutes did not work at all. Remarkably, unfilled classrooms led to a total loss of approximately 854,974,236 instructional days during the 2017-18 school year.

The data also shows that the teacher shortage hasn’t abetted with more job postings and fewer applications. The average number of jobs posted by districts increased across administrative, certified and classified categories while the average number of applicants decreased across those same categories. Interestingly, the average number of days it took to fill a job decreased during the 2017-2018 school year for every kind of district position from lead teacher/department head to mathematics to special education.

As a reminder that education challenges and solutions aren’t always one-size-fits-all and that there can be differences among districts of varying size and settings, the report indicated significant disparities in employee absences across geographies and type of school district. It showed smaller districts tend to have the highest percentage of non-working substitutes as well as the fewest days worked by substitutes. As a result, their fill rates tend to be lower no matter the location. When it comes to the average number of applicants per job posting, suburban districts have the most (25.4) while rural districts are not far behind (23.6) and urban districts have the least (12.6).

The National Absence and Hiring Trends report is based on data from 3,789,535 employees and 51,803,260 absences, as well as 11,692,309 job applications and 583, 696 jobs posted in K-12 organizations nationwide. The data has been declared nationally representative by the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University.

About the Frontline Research & Learning Institute

The Frontline Research & Learning Institute is a division of Frontline Education, an integrated insights partner to K-12 organizations nationwide. The Institute is a learning organization dedicated to providing data-driven research, resources, and observations to support and advance the educational community. Driven by the vast amount of records across Frontline’s comprehensive solutions portfolio, the Institute leverages data from more than 12,000 educational organizations and several million users to reach findings and provide benchmarks that inform strategic decision-making for the education community. The Frontline Research & Learning Institute works with Johns Hopkins Center for Research and Reform in Education to ensure all research reports and analyses are rigorously-validated and representative of national data.


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Andrea Fitzpatrick