Families across the district will be hearing more and more about attendance this year as schools work to improve attendance rates. Attendance matters just as much in kindergarten as it does in high school. Here are a few things we know about why this is so important:
- Children with good attendance are more likely to be successful in school.
- Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade (which is an important benchmark).
- By 6th grade, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign for students at risk for dropping out of school.
- By 9th grade, good attendance can predict graduation rates even better than 8th grade test scores.
Overall, attending school and arriving on time each day make a significant difference in your child's future. Students who are absent miss out on key instruction time and have a harder time making up assignments and tests. Being late means that your student starts the day behind. Both scenarios can mean more work for teachers, who may have to repeat instructions or make special accommodations for test retakes, etc. This can also take away from instruction time for the students who arrived on time.
Because it's so important, we are asking all families to help us make sure your kids are in school as much as they possibly can be. We know illness happens, and we don't want students in school who are seriously ill. (See below.)
What will be different this year:
The state of Oregon's laser focus on attendance requires schools follow very specific guidelines in order to keep careful track of attendance. The goal schools are asked to aim for is 95% or higher attendance rate every day. Unexcused absences will count against that rate and will prompt contact from the school when they start to add up. Families are asked to please call the school's attendance secretary to alert the school of an excused absence. (This can be done up to three days after the day in question.)
Here are some important definitions:
tardy: Any arrival afer the start of school is considered a tardy. Any student leaving prior to the end of the school day is also considered tardy. Tardies can be considered "excused" in cases of student illness, death in the family or medical appointments with a doctor's note. (Anything more than 15 minutes late is considered "excessively tardy."
excused absence: Reasons for absence that the district considers to be "excused" include severe illness, death or funerals of family members, school-sponsored activities, or medical or dental appointments with a doctor's note. (Note that if at all possible, we ask that you try to schedule these appointments outside of the school day or on early release days. The district allows 2 hours for a standard appointment.) Students who are absent three or more consecutive days due to illness are required to provide a doctor's note.
unexcused absence: Reasons that are considered "unexcused" included minor illness, haircuts, birthdays or other family celebrations, shopping or errands, and yes, also vacations. (More on that later.)
chronic absence: The state of Oregon defines chronic absenteeism as missing 10 percent or more school days, whether the absences are excused or unexcused.
truant: Under Oregon law, eight unexcused one-half day (or more) absences in any four-week period during the school year constitutes truancy. Parents who fail to ensure compliance can face a fine.
severe illness: This is subject to a parent's judgment, of course, but typically students with a high fevere, or who are vomiting, etc., would be considered severely ill and should be kept at home.
the 10-day rule: A student who is absent for 10 consecutive days....[how does this work?]
Communication from school:
Attendance calls: The attendance system will make automated calls to all students with unexcused absences as of 10:30 a.m. and again at 3:00 if not called in the morning.
Letters home: Schools will also be contacting families when their child may be at risk of being chronically absent or tardy. The hope is that this information can help families to understand how these absences or tardies can add up. [more?]
How to check your child's attendance: Parents can log in to ParentVue to check their student's attendance. Initial login information is available from your school.
Practical tips for getting your child to school on time:
- Make sure your children keep a regular bedtime and establish a morning routine.
- Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
- Ensure your children go to school every day unless they are too sick (for example, if they have a fever over 101 degrees or they are vomiting).
- Avoid scheduling vacations or doctor’s appointments when school is in session.
- Talk to your child’s teacher for advice if your child feels anxious about going to school.
- Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, neighbor, or another parent to take your child to school.