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How Oregon school districts track attendance during COVID

Oregon Dept. of Education guidelines for keeping track of attendance includes participating in class, communicating with the teacher, or completing an assignment.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Education has been trying to improve attendance rates in schools for years. 

It's the whole point of the "Every Day Matters" campaign to get more kids in school for more consecutive days.

Credit: Oregon Department of Educaiton

School attendance and enrollment are also tied to funding in Oregon. The more students enrolled in a school district, the more money the district receives from the State School Fund. 

Keeping track of attendance during a pandemic is a lot different than normal in-person school.

The ODE did not require districts to keep track of attendance in the spring like they would if schools were open.

School districts were required log "student contact" but the state did not collect that data.

This fall, school districts are required to track attendance through a student's participation or interaction with a teacher or paraprofessional.

According to ODE guidelines, interaction can include participating in a video class, communicating with the teacher through text or email, or posting completed coursework.

Based on those metrics, several large school districts in Oregon are reporting high levels of participation during remote learning.

-The Salem-Kaiser School District with 41,000 students reported a 91.7% attendance last week.

-The Beaverton School District with 39,711 students reported an 95.8% attendance at the end of September. 

-The Portland Public School District, with more than 46,000 students, said 99% of students had "engaged" since school started.

The numbers do not mean all of these students are logging on and learning every day. 

ODE said this regarding attendance in its Ready Schools Safe Learners guidelines:

As a state education agency, rooted in ensuring civil rights protections and access to quality education, ODE recognizes a fundamental responsibility to gather and review any information that can assist in that core public purpose. Attendance data won’t and should not be used in the 2020-21 school year for comparative or accountability reporting but as a potential tool in helping understand the changes happening in how and where students learn and teachers teach. What is most important at this time is our collective effort to support active engagement and provide resources to meet students and families experiencing challenges with staying connected. 

Do you want to share your family's remote learning story? Email us at CallCristin@kgw.com

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