Why do we need an attendance policy?
In recent years it has become clear that attendance is a concern in the Vernonia Schools. In light of the impact that attendance has on student achievement the district has drafted an attendance policy that will be implemented this school year. Some of the data that has driven the decision to make a formal K-12 attendance policy in our district follows:
• Although the state average for chronic absenteeism in Oregon is 21%, for the Vernonia School District this number is 34%. (Students who are chronically absent miss 10% or more of school days.)
• In Oregon nearly one in four kindergarten students are chronically absent, compared with the national average of 10%. Children chronically absent in both kindergarten and first grade have the poorest reading achievement levels in 5th grade.
• Students who have shown a pattern of chronic absence by the sixth grade are at a much higher risk of dropping out of school.
The good news is that the most recent school report card for the Vernonia School District shows that we are only slightly below the state average in our average daily attendance. This number is the average percentage of our total students that are in attendance on a daily basis. The Vernonia Schools’ average daily attendance is 91.5% as compared to the state average of 93.6%.
What does this mean for parents and students?
Some things will not change. If your student is absent you will still notify the school to excuse the absence. What will be different is that the school will be more proactive in informing you about your student’s attendance. When your child has 5 absences in a semester, you can expect to receive a phone call from the school. School activities will not count toward the 5 absences. Excused and unexcused absences will both be added into the total. At 10 absences, you will receive a call from your student’s counselor. At 15 absences you can expect a call from the principal and an attendance contract will be drawn up to prevent further absences. At 20 absences students will be in danger of losing credit for the class and the state of Oregon truancy law will take effect.
We believe that improving attendance will result in better student achievement for our students and we will be gathering data to see what changes result from the new policy. If you have any questions please feel free to contact one of the counselors or an administrator.