How much do teachers work over the course of the year? Let me tell you that no one has the slightest idea. Here’s why: First, different sources put work hours per week (during the school year) anywhere from about 40 hours a week to 50. That’s a huge difference. My guess is weekly hours during the school year aren’t too different from the hours of other college educated professionals. Second, there is no good evidence on how much time teachers spend during the summer prepping for teaching. Here my guess is that teachers put in quite a few hours unpaid hours during the summer, but the data behind the guess isn’t all that good. Bottom line: the uncertainty about hours of off-the-clock teacher work is too large to let us draw good conclusions about how many hours a year the average teacher puts in.
In contrast, we do know something about how many days a year teachers put in on-the-clock. My friends at the NCTQ put together the numbers for me. Here we compare teachers to private sector, “professional and related” workers with 10 years experience.
|Days per year||Teachers||Private sector professional workers with 10 years experience|
|Work days per year||260|
|Contracted work days||185||231|
|Paid sick/personal leave||13.5||11|
|Work days if all leave taken||171.5||220|
The on-the-clock work days per year numbers are probably pretty accurate, But, again, we don’t know much about off-the-clock hours.
The NCTQ has turned up one very interesting fact. They report that the average number days of sick leave for teachers isn’t that different from what private sector professionals get (13.5 versus 11 in the table above). But NCTQ found huge variation in contracted leave days. A number of districts give teachers 20+ days of leave. That seems awfully high.