What is Chronic Absenteeism and why does it matter?
Chronic Absenteeism is defined by the state of Oregon as missing 10% of school due to absences, excused or unexcused. Researchers say chronically absent students are far less likely to graduate than kids who show up more regularly. Students who are chronically absent in 12th grade have a 66 percent graduation rate. High school seniors who attend more regularly graduate 90 percent of the time. 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 students dropping out and even juvenile justice contacts.
Chronic absenteeism is a complex issue that requires a thoughtful and complex response, and must be suited for district, school, cultural, and individual students needs. Students may miss school because they’re sick or don’t have transportation. But sometimes they’re avoiding problems at school, such as being bullied or feeling victimized based on their race. Schools and students cannot fix this problem alone. Cross-sector partnerships with families, local and state health agencies, community based organizations, and community and business members must be leveraged to provide essential wraparound support to address the root 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.
Five state agencies — the Oregon Department of Education and Chief Education Office in conjunction with the state’s Early Learning Division, Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services — drafted a plan aimed at quantifying and addressing absenteeism problems. The plan divides the effort into several parts, each with multiple initiatives embedded inside. For instance, “Part A” focuses on publicly disclosing information on chronic absence. It calls for a “Statewide Data Portal” that the public can access to look into absence rates, and other information on schools. The public disclosure would also include a state website with recommended solutions and a community data report sent annually to families. Other major parts of the report focus on ways to track “chronic absenteeism,” approaches to reduce the problem and improve attendance.
Professionals from Willamette ESD and the state. Feel welcome to reach out to us with any questions!