Last week, the Oregon Department of Education for the first time released detailed data on chronic absence of students in K-12 schools throughout the state.
The release of the information – which will now happen annually – represents a major victory for Oregon education; the data will allow educators to better understand who is at risk for becoming chronically absent and where to target specific interventions that might help fix the problem.
The Oregonian and theBend Bulletin both covered the release of the data last week; their articles included comments from Children’s Institute President and CEO Swati Adarkar.
The release also is a landmark in a long process of Children’s Institute advocacy. The Children’s Institute and our partners – Upstream Public Health, the Chalkboard Project, Stand for Children, and the Oregon Business Association – have been working with ODE officials for months on this issue and encouraging release of the data.
Chronic absence – defined as a student missing 10 percent or more of school days – is a significant problem in Oregon. And students who are chronically absent, especially in kindergarten and the early grades, are far more likely to drop out of high school. Simply by improving attendance in their early years of school, students can significantly increase their chances of graduating high school, attending college, and going on to reach their potential.
That’s why understanding the problem with detailed data is so important.The new data provides chronic absence rates at the school district and school level, and will disaggregate these numbers to show chronic absence among racial, economic and other groups.
“We know that good attendance habits established early on lead to later school success,” says Children’s Institute President and CEO Swati Adarkar. “With Oregon’s recent significant investment in full-day kindergarten, this a perfect opportunity to connect this data with improving student attendance and future student achievement.”