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Every Day Matters: Oregon effort tackles school absenteeism

Statewide tour underway to boost the number of students in the classroom

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Students who regularly attend school are more likely to succeed, so the state of Oregon is working to tackle chronic absenteeism in the school system that affects about one in five students across the state.

A state Department of Education campaign, Every Day Matters, has a goal of curbing the serious problem of school absenteeism. Its held a forum in Bend Friday at the Deschutes Public Library as part of a statewide tour to find solutions.

Terra Hernandez, team leader for Every Day Matters, told NewsChannel 21 lack of transportation resources and mental health concerns are two key factors for students missing school.

The at-a-glance school district profiles reported for the 2018-2019 school year, 20.4% of students were considered "chronically absent," defined as missing more than 10 percent of classes.

Hernandez believes the under-served students are suffering the most, especially within the rural communities in Oregon.

"Students are having to start at an early time for high school students, some parents don't have transportation out in our rural communities," Hernandez said. "Also mental health keeps coming up. Every time we meet with districts, students and families, we have a lack of resources across Oregon for nurses in schools, social workers and counselors in schools."

Every Day Matters reports that children who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade are 18% less likely to graduate. Students become at risk when they miss more than 10% of the school year.

Hernandez said the state needs to examine school attendance laws.

"We need to look at our compulsory attendance laws, truancy laws, and the fines that a lot of school districts are giving our parents and families, Hernandez saod. "Just looking at processes, we need to be taking care of our schools, community and (creating) multi-tier systems of support."

Article Topic Follows: Central Oregon

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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