Education officials make effort to reduce school absenteeism

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon education officials are launching a campaign to reduce school absenteeism, which is considered a significant reason for the state's low graduation rate and unimpressive standardized test results.

Carla Wade of the Oregon Department of Education told Oregon Public Broadcasting that the "Every Day Matters" campaign will help schools work with families to get kids to class.

Obstacles for students include "economic barriers, health including mental health or disability issues, transportation problems — streets that don't have proper crosswalks or sidewalks, or infrequent bus service," Wade said.

The Education Department is paying to help half the state's school districts with the biggest absenteeism problems. Money goes for education specialists to help schools diagnose what's causing absenteeism.

Additional obstacles, Wade said, can include cultural differences — school schedules might not correspond with important ceremonies or events — and bullying.

Money also will go toward coming up with regional strategies and funding professional development for teachers.

Wade said the Myrtle Point School District is an example of a district that has reduced absenteeism. She said teachers and other school employees have worked to build a more welcoming culture.

In Oakridge, she said, incentives such as attendance certificates have helped cut absenteeism.


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