The Center on American Progress' new analyst Raegen Miller has an interesting paper out on teacher absences here. Andy Rotherham offers his take on the issue here (read the comments, too). The thrust of the paper is that absences appear to follow patterns, and that the different levels of government (federal, state, and local) can use this information to better craft incentives to address teacher absences.
One of the challenges here seems to be that, like many other aspects of teacher-quality policy, teachers' leave policies are set differently by state legislatures and in local contracts. You can read a little bit about this issue in my story here, or wait for Mr. Miller to seek out examples of promising state and local initiatives to tackle this problem through the National Council on Teacher Quality's collective bargaining database.
The federal government hasn't done a whole lot yet on the absent-teacher front, but there does seem to be interest in a related issue: substitute teaching. (And it's no wonder why: Substitutes cost schools $4 billion a year, according to federal statistics.)
One interesting proposal, by Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., would create a $5 million fund to improve the quality of substitute teachers and direct the education secretary to study the issue. The proposal was rolled into the No Child Left Behind Act "discussion draft" last year.