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      Report: Providence teacher absentee rate higher than national average

      A new report finds Providence teachers average 13 absences each year, two more than the national average.

      The report studied 40 districts across the U.S. The average number of days missed by school teachers for absences was 11. In Providence, which participated in the study, it was 13.

      "I don't think we'd be happy unless it was 100 percent. So to be on that side of the average gives us room for improvement," said Joseph DiPina, chief of administration at the Providence School Department.

      The study conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality analyzed data for the 2012-13 school year. Indianapolis reported the fewest teacher absences at six days a year. Cleveland was the highest at 16 per year.

      The average school year length is 186 days.

      In Providence, 2,000 teachers serve approximately 24,000 students.

      "Overall, our impression is that the numbers could be better. We track teacher absentees really closely and we work with our principals and the union on a number of reforms to reduce the number of days that are absent from the classroom," DiPina said.

      Some policy changes in recent history to lower teacher absenteeism rates include automating weekly attendance reports for teachers, defining a consistent disciplinary process for teachers who are excessively absent, and changing protocol on how the district charges teachers who are out on workers' compensation.

      "What we'll probably do is look at districts that serve a similar demographic, probably in the northeast to see how we measure against them. Districts like Worcester, Hartford, Springfield," DiPina said.

      Contradicting past research, the study did not find a direct relationship between neighborhood poverty levels and higher absentee rates.