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Oregon Has A Major Problem With Absent Students


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A new national study finds Oregon’s problem with students habitually missing school is worse than most other states.

The Attendance Works study finds students in the Northwest are more likely to miss school regularly than kids elsewhere. In Oregon, 24 percent of eighth graders missed at least three days a month. Twenty-two percent of fourth graders missed school at least that often. That’s worse than the national average of 20 percent for both grade levels.

In fact, Oregon’s chronically absent rates were worse than the national average for every demographic group the study evaluated.

Dana Hepper is with the Portland-based Children’s Institute, an advocacy group interested in attendance rates and absenteeism as part of its focus on early childhood education. Hepper said kids who miss a lot of school early on, tend to keep missing school.  

“There’s a clear correlation,” Hepper said. “The kids who didn’t regularly attend kindergarten are often the same students who are then not regularly attending in high school.”  

The non-profit, Attendance Works, published a national report on student chronic absenteeism and its effect on achievement.

The non-profit, Attendance Works, published a national report on student chronic absenteeism and its effect on achievement.

The study also shows a measurable achievement difference between kids who attend school regularly, and those who don’t. Those differences appear greater for the nation as a whole, than in Oregon.

The Attendance Works study is based on student responses on the National Assessment of Educational Progress - “the Nation’s report card” exam, taken by a representative of sample of students in every state. 

Officials at the state-level in Oregon take the results with a grain of salt, telling OPB that many of the differences from state-to-state are “not statistically significant.” 

Oregon officially reports chronically absent data at the school district level on its school district report cards, and aggregated for all Oregon public schools on the state report card. Oregon high school students tend to be the most likely to be chronically absent.

Oregon’s official data reporting on absenteeism will get more detailed, this fall. For the first time, Oregon will release data down to the school and grade level on which students are missing school at least ten percent of the time. Education advocates believe Oregon will offer the most detailed reporting on problem attendance ever officially conducted at the state level.

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