New research finds around one-in-three public school teachers miss more than 10 days of work in a typical 180-day school year and experts fear that number may go even higher.
In Michigan just over 45 percent of its teachers reached that level in 2012 according to figures compiled by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
In a report in USA Today, researcher Raegen Miller said the nation's improving economic picture may also worsen absenteeism as fewer teachers fear they'll lose their job over taking too many sick days.
Miller noted that providing substitutes for all of those absent teachers costs schools at least $4 billion a year and absenteeism also lowers student achievement.
A 2007 study by Duke University researchers estimated that for every 10 math classes a teacher misses, a student's achievement drops the same it would if an experienced teacher had been replaced by a novice one.
Schools serving larger proportions of African-American and Latino students are "disproportionately exposed to teacher absence," according to Miller who studied the federal survey data for the Washington-based Center for American Progress.
The state of Michigan ranked fifth in the survey of states with Rhode Island topping the list with a teacher absenteeism rate of 50.2%. It was followed by Hawaii at 49.6%, Arkansas 48.5% and New Mexico at 47.5%.
Researchers at Duke have suggested paying teachers $400 a year more but docking them $50 for every sick day they use, says USA Today. The National Council on Teacher Quality said superintendents should work to change school culture and persuade teachers to focus more on showing up for work unless they are truly ill.
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