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Attendance gap – MASD hopes to close it

The Mount Angel School District sees opportunities to improve student attendance now that the state is tracking regular attendees across all grade levels.

According to the state’s At-A-Glance reports, published in October, 62% of all MASD students attended at least 90% of their enrolled classes during the ’22-’23 school year.

Specifically regular attendance was at 59% for St. Mary’s Public School, 68% for Mount Angel Middle School, and 61% for John F. Kennedy High School. The state average was 62%.

MASD Superintendent Rachel Stucky said these numbers were “pretty alarmingly low” and should be 80% or better, or even 90% for the high school. 

Stucky said students need to be participating in order to succeed and the district will be exploring strategies to bring these numbers up. She said they will not focus on punishing students who do not attend but rather strive to identify and address the root of the problem.

“We know that kids that feel a more personal connection to school are more likely coming to school,” said Stucky.

The ’21-’22 school year saw regular attendance at 64%, though the state was only counting K-2 students prior to this year’s report as this group was a strong indicator of attendance overall. In the ’18-’19 school year 80% of K-2 students at MASD were regular attendees, compared to 82% statewide.

Stucky said the district did see encouraging news in the report, with the rate of 9th graders on track to graduate at 91%, above the state average of 84%. This was an improvement over the previous year’s rate of 84%, and even higher than the pre-COVID rate of 81% during the ’18-’19 school year.

Stucky said these higher rates were a direct result of teachers using a more personalized approach to education, taking time to work one-on-one with students and parents as needed. She said this teamwork and dedication between the district and the community is the key to crossing such milestones.

Also encouraging, said Stucky, was an increase in 8th grade math scores, with 32% meeting expectations, compared to 26% statewide. This was up from 25% the previous year.

Reading scores were down among 3rd graders, with 31% of students meeting expectations. This compared to the state average of 40% and the previous year’s rate of 39%.

Enrollment increased to 665 students from 628 students the previous year. This compares to pre-COVID enrollment of 726 during the ’18-’19 school year.

– Stephen Floyd

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