For the first time since the Oregon Department of Education reported rates of chronic absenteeism among students, the rate did not increase from the previous year, and actually fell a bit, according to school profiles released Thursday.
The Regular Attenders Report, released as part of the At-A-Glance School and District Profiles, shows that 20.4 percent of students were considered chronically absent, meaning they missed 10 percent or more of school days in the 2018-19 school year. That is down slightly from 20.5 percent in 2017-18 and stops a run of four consecutive years with increases in chronic absenteeism of around a percentage point per year.
“Every day a student is in class is an opportunity for learning, so school attendance is the most fundamental part of every child’s education,” said Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill. “Over the past year, we have seen more school districts and communities developing programs highlighting the importance of going to school every day.
:While it is heartening to see improvement in the numbers, especially the high school grades, we cannot overlook that one in five Oregon students misses a significant amount of class time, and we must improve school attendance in Oregon. The Student Success Act recognizes this need and calls out regular attendance as one of the key metrics that drives the investment.”
The data shows that all high school grades increased their rates of regular attendance. But those grades continue to have the lowest rates of any grades. Last October, ODE launched the Every Day Matters campaign, aimed at helping districts get the word out to families and their communities that regular attendance is linked to student outcomes including improved test scores and graduation rates.
2017-18 Chronic Absenteeism Rate
2018-19 Chronic Absenteeism Rate
Strategic work to decrease chronic absenteeism, as stated in the Chronic Absenteeism Statewide Plan, began in the highest chronic absenteeism rate school districts in the 2018-19 school year and is showing positive improvements. Sixty of the 91 (65.9 percent) school districts receiving support, either directly from the ODE or through Regional Capacity Builders in regions of Education Service Districts, showed decreases or stability in chronic absenteeism rates from 2017-18 to 2018-19.
More than half (51.6 percent) showed decreases or stability in chronic absenteeism rates for historically underserved races and ethnicities and 58.2 percent showed decreases or stability in chronic absenteeism rates for students experiencing poverty.
At-A-Glance School and District Profiles
The At-A-Glance School and District Profiles include graphics showing how a school or district compares to the statewide average in categories like chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, average class size and more. The profiles were developed with extensive input from Oregon families, including families of historically underserved students.
The data points represent a more comprehensive approach to evaluating and measuring a school’s impact on students. In five minutes or less, parents can get the comprehensive look at their school or district that they’ve been requesting. All of these changes are part of Oregon’s Plan, which is the state of Oregon’s plan for meeting federal requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Oregon’s Plan emphasizes partnership and shared accountability for student outcomes. The plan includes supports for those school districts most in need. Some of the prominent supports are technical assistance to guide school districts through continuous improvement planning and improvement coaches for school district administration staff.