With the new school year beginning in September, school officials in Crescent City, Brookings and Gold Beach said they’ll be closely monitoring student absenteeism rates and developing solutions to lower those rates.

Central Curry

School District 1

According to Central Curry School District 1 Supt. Tim Wilson, the absenteeism rate in Oregon is defined as the percentage of students who attend at least 90% of the scheduled school days.

Wilson said each year’s rates for school years 2015-2018 at Riley Creek Elementary School were 78%, 79% and 84%.

The rates at Gold Beach High School for those same school years were 85%, 81% and 65%.

“The elementary rate continues to climb with proactive promotion of the importance of attending school regularly, and targeted student/family interventions by school staff,” Wilson said.

“Last year’s drop at the high school is of major concern and is currently being studied in preparation for the new school year.”  

Wilson said that at the elementary level, the challenge begins as the school sets the tone and importance for regular attendance. “If that culture is set in the early years of school, then it becomes the expectation for all parties,” he said.

“If those patterns are not established in the early years, it certainly has an impact on older students, who are more independent.”

Wilson added that in addition to employing a marketing campaign promoting regular attendance, the district has received grant funds to hire an attendance advocate who will work with families and schools to encourage attendance.

Brookings-Harbor

School District

The Brookings-Harbor School District includes Brookings-Harbor High School, Azalea Middle School and Kalmiopsis Elementary School.

The Oregon Department of Education’s State Report Card lists the Brookings-Harbor School District’s three-year average absenteeism rate as 72.9% for K-5, 79.4% for grades 6-8, and 74.7% for grades 9-12.

“Our district’s rate of students who miss school remains too high,” said the district’s public information officer, Nancy Raskauskas-Coons. “In all three schools, at least a quarter of all students met the criteria for chronic absenteeism, meaning they missed more than 10% of school time for excused or unexcused absences or travel.”

Raskauskas-Coons said there are a variety of factors that pose a challenge to regular school attendance for Oregon families, including economic barriers, health issues, transportation problems, cultural differences, bullying, or the belief that missing a little school will not have negative consequences for a student academically.

“Our region of 10 school districts has received funding and support to improve attendance, as all of our districts struggle with these issues,” she said.

“Acting Supt. Dawn Granger is also the regional capacity builder for our area through the South Coast Education Service District, and will be working with Brookings-Harbor School District this year with targeted and strategic support to improve attendance at every school.”

For more information about how the Brookings-Harbor School District is trying to improve the absenteeism rate, Raskauskas-Coons suggested visiting https://every-day-matters.org.

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