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Oregon Schools Seek to Curb Chronic Absenteeism

 While getting through school can be difficult for children who attend school on a regular basis, it can be much more difficult for those who miss classes on a regular basis. As various studies have indicated over the years, there is always a direct correlation between students who miss significant amounts of time from school and lower graduation rates among them. Because of this growing problem in various schools across the United States, including Oregon, the state recently began a program aimed at reducing student absenteeism. 

Known as Every Day Matters, the program initiated by the Oregon Department of Education consists of a website and other resources that can be used not only by educators at all grade levels, but also by families of children who have issues with chronic absenteeism. The website, www.Every-Day-Matters.org, is the main component of the program, and is filled with links to various local agencies and other resources families can use to assist them with matters that may be contributing to their child’s absenteeism. 

Seen as a key part of Governor Brown’s goal of having a 90 percent graduation rate within four years of when a student enters high school as a freshman, reducing absenteeism in Oregon schools is of the utmost importance. Along with the numerous research that has been conducted on this topic by other school districts and agencies across the country, Oregon’s studies also indicate connections between regular attendance and students having high test scores and graduation rates. 

With chronic absenteeism being defined as when a student misses 10 percent or more of the total school days in a year, the task may seem daunting. However, thanks to the many dedicated teachers, administrators, and others involved in the Every Day Matters program, the Oregon Department of Education believes it has the formula needed to make a major impact in this area. 

Since various other programs have been initiated in recent years to tackle this growing problem, the Oregon state legislature approved funding for a chronic absenteeism plan that began this school year. Within this plan, money was appropriated to help the state’s Department of Education target 27 school districts that have had the most significant problems with chronic absenteeism. To help these districts, 12 ODE Absenteeism Coaches were hired to collaborate with educators within these districts. 

Along with the 12 Absenteeism Coaches, the Oregon Department of Education has also used the appropriated money to hire eight Regional Coordinators for the program. In doing so, these coordinators will help to ensure the various programs and initiatives will be implemented by the coaches assisting the school districts with the most critical absenteeism problems. To help with this, the Oregon Department of Education has formed important partnerships with a variety of state agencies and organizations, including the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Department of Human Services, and the Healthy Kids Learn Better Coalition. 

Since this program is so instrumental to helping children and their families realize educational success now and into the future, the Every Day Matters website and toolkits have include a variety of items that can be useful in this campaign. These include a Best Practices Guide, as well as banners, flyers, posters, and colorful yard signs that can help raise community awareness of this growing problem within local schools. 

In working diligently to help reduce and eliminate chronic absenteeism, the Oregon Department of Education, along with the many dedicated teachers, administrators, and other staff across the state, has made the commitment to help bring about positive changes in the lives of children and families who are at a crossroads.