Chronic Absenteeism Statewide Plan

The 2015 Oregon Legislature enacted House Bill 4002 that directed the Department of Education (ODE) and the Chief Education Office (CEdO) to develop a statewide education plan to address chronic absences of students in the public schools

The plan was released in December 2016.

One in Six Oregon Students are Chronically Absent

Alerted to high rates of chronic absence by a research study in 2012 and an analysis by the state’s largest newspaper in 2014, The Oregon State Department of Education has begun calculating chronic absence rates and sharing with schools and districts who want to improve attendance. Chronic absence is also included in the state’s achievement compacts, a part of its accountability system under a waiver from No Child Left Behind.

The 2014-15 analysis shows:

The 2014-15 analysis shows:
  • Oregon has a chronic absence problem: More 17 percent of Oregon K-12 students, or one in six, are chronically absent.

  • Chronic absence is particularly high among certain student populations. About 30 percent of Native American students were chronically absent. Special education students (23 percent), low-income students (22 percent) and Pacific Islanders (22 percent) also had high rates of absenteeism.

  • Chronic absence spiked in 12th grade but was also high in kindergarten. About 32 percent of high school seniors were chronically absent. In kindergarten, 17 percent of students missed too much school, roughly comparable to the rates in 8th and 9th grade.

  • There is hope if we look to successful schools: Some schools are beating the odds and keeping chronic absence low

View the 2014-15 analysis

  • View this PowerPoint to see the findings from the 2012 research.

  • Read our blog item on the 2012 Oregon report.

  • Seek how chronic absence is now part of Oregon’s achievement compacts.

  • Read Showing Up, Staying In to learn how the state can effectively address Oregon’s chronic absence epidemic, with a particular focus on reaching at-risk children as early as possible.

Research
  • Buehler, Melanie Hart, Tapogna, John, and Chang, Hedy, Why Being in School Matters: Chronic Absenteeism in Oregon Public Schools, Attendance Works, June 2012. Although many states collect data on attendance in their longitudinal student data bases, the majority fail to make effective use of this data to analyze how many and which students are chronically absent. Demonstrating the value of such an analysis, ECONorthwest used data from the state’s Department of Education to determine that 23 percent of students K-12 in Oregon were chronically absent in 2009-10, with low-income students at the highest risk of missing significant amounts of school. Attendance problems in the early years predicted absenteeism in later grades, and students with the highest absenteeism typically scored lower on state assessments. This research also showed that poor attendance is a solvable problem by identifying schools that beat the odds by maintaining lower than expected chronic absence rates despite serving high risk populations.

  • The Condition of Education for Members of Oregon’s Indian Tribes, ECONorthwest, February 2014. The Spirit Mountain Community Fund and the Chalkboard Project commissioned ECONorthwest to assess the condition of education for seven of Oregon’s federally-recognized tribes. The study’s goal is to assist tribal leaders, educators, and policymakers as they develop strategies to accelerate achievement gains and boost high school and postsecondary graduation rates. The data show that one-third of Oregon tribe-enrolled students were chronically absent in 2011-12, compared to 19 percent of all other students. Rates are highest at the high school level, with 43 percent of Oregon tribe-enrolled students chronically absent. Achievement gaps in reading and math are also evident beginning in 3rd grade and remain relatively constant thereafter.

  • Henderson, Tia et al., The Connection Between Missing School and Health: A Review of Chronic Absenteeism and Student Health in Oregon, Upstream Public Health, October 2014. Upstream Public Health looks “upstream” at factors in communities, at home, and at schools that lead to chronic absenteeism. The report reviews data and research on student absences — finding that unexpected factors such as unstable housing, fear of bullying, and punitive school discipline policies as well as health conditions such as hunger, dental pain, respiratory illness, and depression contribute to absenteeism. Additionally, it explores how adults with less education are more likely to smoke, be overweight, have diabetes, and die prematurely of certain chronic conditions.