Clatsop County school districts showed mixed results in addressing chronic absenteeism among students last school year.
Astoria School District closely followed the state average, with nearly 20 percent of students missing at least 10 percent of possible school days last year, a 1 percent increase from the prior year, according to figures released by the state Department of Education.
Seaside School District led the county in chronic absenteeism last school year with 24 percent of students not regularly attending, followed by Knappa with 22.3 percent and Jewell with 21.1 percent. Warrenton-Hammond School District was at 14.5 percent, the lowest in the county. Warrenton had posted a 9 percent chronic absenteeism rate in 2014-15 that doubled to 18.5 percent in 2015-16 before decreasing last year.
Facing continual attendance issues, Astoria this school year launched Strive for Five, an attendance campaign with a goal for students to miss no more than a week of school the entire year.
Astoria Superintendent Craig Hoppes said the campaign has raised awareness about attendance, an issue the school district plans to highlight often throughout the year.
“I think we need to get ourselves around 10 percent,” Hoppes said of his goal for the district’s chronic absenteeism.
At a school board meeting Nov. 8, he said, administrators from each school will discuss strategies used to improve attendance. Hoppes will talk about the attendance policies of other school districts.
Statewide, the number of chronically absent students has continually crept up from 17.4 percent a few years ago to nearly 20 percent last school year.
The state is implementing a chronic absenteeism plan, including $7.4 million invested in the two-year budget by the Legislature to improve attendance and graduation rates.
The Legislature has also invested $170 million in Measure 98, passed by voters last year to expand dual-credit and career-technical courses and dropout prevention in high school.
“We know that students who attend school regularly have more opportunity to learn, so tracking chronic absenteeism is critical,” said acting state Deputy Superintendent Colt Gill in a statement. “There is a direct link between high instances of chronic absenteeism and low graduation rates. This is why chronic absenteeism is one of our school accountability measures in our Oregon Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act and why Gov. (Kate) Brown and the Legislature have invested in programs to address the issue.”