State Education Chief Out With Priorities

SALEM, OR — Oregon’s chief education officer is gearing up for the upcoming school year, working on ways to get families and communities to work together to tackle chronic absences in Oregon’s schools.

Nancy Golden said research backs up her efforts to cut chronic absenteeism.  She said schools could spend less money and get better results if student would just attend class more than 90% of the time, and if kids were reading at grade level by the third grade.  But, according to a new report by The Oregonian, 20% of Oregon students missed at least 10% of the 2012-2013 school year.  That’s the worst in the nation.

Golden’s staff is now working with some of the most-affected communities to address chronic absences, and she plans to use Oregon’s funding of full-day kindergarten in 2015 as a way to bring attention to the importance of young children reading at grade level.  The Chief Education officer doesn’t have the power to order schools to teach reading in a specific way, but Golden plans to highlight proven techniques that work.

She asked: Given that 75 percent of struggling readers who don’t get intensive help until after third grade “never catch up, how could you not want to” take every step to get students reading by grade three?

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