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National Employee Absence & Substitute Data Report

2018-2019 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 and click the plus sign for a breakdown of the data.


Absence & Fill Rates

Average Number of Absences1 per Employee

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

Administrative Staff: Administrative Staff | Certified – Teacher Staff: Teacher Staff | Certified – Non Teacher Staff: Nursing Staff and Professional Services Staff | Classified Staff: Administrative Office Support Staff, Facilities Staff, Food Services Staff, Security Staff, Substitutes Staff, Support Staff, Technology Services Staff, Transportation Staff and Extracurricular Activities Staff | Other Staff: All others

Percentage of Absences by Reason

Insight: Employees are most likely to be absent due to illness, although professionally related reasons (such as professional development and field trips) can also take educators out of the classroom.

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*

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: Longer lead times correlate with higher fill rates. Communicating the need for employees to report planned absences further in advance whenever possible 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: In general, Fridays tend to have higher absence rates and lower fill rates. In December, however, nearly one in four teacher absences occurred on Tuesdays. Despite the increase in absences, Tuesdays had the highest average fill rate, suggesting that it is easier to find substitutes for mid-week absences.

  • 22.2%
  • 18.3%
  • 16.2%
  • 19.4%
  • 23.9%
  • 15.1%
  • 18.9%
  • 18.8%
  • 21.3%
  • 25.9%
  • 22.3%
  • 18.1%
  • 17.4%
  • 19.1%
  • 23.1%
  • 16.8%
  • 19.3%
  • 17.8%
  • 23.7%
  • 22.5%
  • 18.8%
  • 24.4%
  • 18.2%
  • 18.6%
  • 19.9%
  • 20.3%
  • 20.6%
  • 17.0%
  • 19.6%
  • 22.5%
  • 21.1%
  • 18.2%
  • 18.1%
  • 20.1%
  • 22.5%

*Based on data from teacher absences only.


Percentage of Non-Working Substitutes

Insight: The percentage of non-working substitutes has increased compared to the 2017-18 school year. In December, for example, over 63 percent of substitutes did not take jobs.

Average Number of Days Worked 3 per Substitute*

Insight: Substitutes tend to work fewer days in small school districts.

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/substitute ratios and higher fill rates becomes more 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 teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher to sub ratio - December 2018

Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs) Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs) - December 2019

Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average Teacher to Sub Ratio - Feb 2019

Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)

Average Illness Related Absences

Insight: Overall, illness-related absences correlate loosely with influenza-like illness activity as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the weeks around the holidays tend to be an exception, with fewer employees being absent.

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.

Total # of Organizations5,8175,8095,9745,9805,9885,9975,997

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.