What is Chronic Absenteeism?
Chronic absenteeism—or missing at least 10 percent of school days in a school year for any reason, excused or unexcused—is a primary cause of low academic achievement and a powerful predictor of those students who may eventually drop out of school. An estimated five to seven and a half million students miss 18 or more days of school each year, or nearly an entire month or more of school, which puts them at significant risk of falling behind academically and failing to graduate from high school. Because they miss so much school, millions of young people miss out on opportunities in post-secondary education and good careers.
What is the State of Oregon doing about it?
The 2015 Oregon Legislature enacted House Bill (HB) 4002 which directed the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Chief Education Office (CEdO) to develop a joint statewide education plan to address chronic absences of students. HB 4002 also specified elements of the plan and directed the two agencies to collaborate with representatives of the Department of Human Services, Oregon Health Authority, Early Learning Division and community and education stakeholders. In the 2015-16 school year, nearly 102,000 students in Oregon - more than one in six children - were chronically absent from school. Nationally, Oregon’s chronic absenteeism rate consistently ranks within the bottom 20 percent of states. Chronic absenteeism in Oregon has a disproportionate impact on specific populations: Oregon’s American Indian and Alaska Native students, students with disabilities, students of color, students experiencing economic disadvantage and students who have received at least one out-of-school suspension. Chronic absenteeism is a concern for students in every grade, with higher rates in kindergarten and 1st grade and then again across all high school grades. These high absenteeism rates lead to devastating outcomes such as students dropping out, low graduation rates and even juvenile justice contacts. Chronic absenteeism is a complex issue that requires a thoughtful and complex response. Schools and students cannot fix this problem alone. Cross-sector partnerships with local and state health agencies, community based organizations, community and business members and families must be leveraged to provide essential wraparound support to address the root causes of chronic absenteeism for all students. Creating these partnerships and welcoming school environments can impact absenteeism rates, high school graduation rates, school discipline and academic performance. Best and promising practices are most successful when they are systematically applied with
knowledge of the local context.
A little bit about our region!
The definition of absenteeism is chronic absence from school. Principals, teachers and school staff know that when students are not in school, their learning is adversely impacted. Chronic absenteeism is defined by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) as students missing 10% of more of the school year. Recently the ODE created an entire initiative to help Oregon’s schools combat chronic absenteeism. The first step was hiring Chronic Absenteeism Coordinators, who will work in each region of the state with area school districts to improve attendance.
Landon Braden is the coordinator for eastern Oregon. Based out of La Grande, Braden began his new job on July 1, 2018, working with 26 districts to help reduce and prevent absenteeism. He partners with administrators, using data, tools and resources to build a program that works for their students and district.
“We know chronic absenteeism is a difficult problem to solve and what works in one district may not work in another. We want to develop solutions alongside districts based off the unique needs in each district,” Braden said.
What is the overall goal for the Chronic Absenteeism initiative? The State of Oregon’s wants to reduce the chronic absenteeism rate and increase attendance. The state’s current CAR (chronic absenteeism rate) is 20.5% and the goal is 17.8%. Eastern Oregon’s average of 18.7% is just below the state average. To meet the State goal, 435 chronically absent students in Eastern Oregon need to become regular attenders.
During the 2018-19 school year, the InterMountain ESD is working with Braden to share information about this program. For more information, contact landon.bradenimesd.k12.or.us.
Monthly Regional Updates
Spotlights on Schools
- Chronic Absenteeism: Spotlight on La Grande High School
- Chronic Absenteeism: Spotlight on Gib Olinger Elementary of Milton Freewater
- Chronic Absenteeism: Spotlight on Enterprise School District
- Chronic Absenteeism: Spotlight on Hermiston School District
- Chronic Absenteeism: Spotlight on Mac-Hi
Check out the Latest News on Absenteeism!
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- School Attendance & School Success 10/3/18