Schools’ At-A-Glance profiles contain disturbing news about attendance and credit achievement, but they will require some extra looking this year to assess Oregon education.
The Oregon Department of Education released the annual profiles Thursday, Oct. 7. The profiles compile a variety of mostly already-released information to create easy-to-digest school and district evaluations for families, educators and communities. This year’s version won’t have comparisons to past years because much of the data either couldn’t be collected or had altered parameters because of the COVID-19 disruptions.
The profiles show that ninth grade on-track numbers, which have particular significance after the widespread student disengagement during distance learning, have fallen across the board. Tenth graders are considered “on track” if they have completed a quarter of the necessary credits to graduate after their first year of high school.
For the start of the 2021 school year, 74% of Oregon students were on track. The state average was 85% in 2018-19, the last year with data. Underserved races and ethnicities fell from about 80% to 65%. Students with disabilities, a group particularly hard hit by the loss of in-person teaching, fell from roughly 72% to 61%. On-track is a powerful predictor of likely graduation, according to ODE data.
Because of changes to the way attendance was counted and the low participation rates in statewide testing, the regular attenders and statewide assessment data are being published on a separate webpage. Only about a third of grades 3-8 and slightly more than 10% of 11th graders participated in statewide assessments.
Students were considered chronically absent, another top area of concern, if they missed more than 10% of school days. In 2020-21, 28% of students were chronically absent, while nearly 38% of students identified as underserved races and ethnicities were chronically absent. ODE eased its definition of attendance to accommodate distance and hybrid learning last year, making the data not comparable, but it still represents a sharp increase for all groups from 2019.