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Paul lHillyer

The good news at Klamath Falls City Schools is that more of our students are getting to school more often. Therefore, more of them are taking advantage of the outstanding instructional opportunities our schools provide.

Last year the percent of students categorized as “faithful attenders” (those in school 90 percent or more of the time) improved by about 3 percent. That said, we are not satisfied and we plan to do even better.

No matter how much our district spends to hire and train the best teachers, to update the curriculum, or to improve instruction, none of it is meaningful if students are not in class. Good attendance is the foundation for good performance.

The research couldn’t be more compelling: A student’s attendance record is second only to grades as the best indicator of later academic performance. Among early learners, attendance is especially critical – only about 17 percent of chronically absent kindergartners and first graders scored proficient in reading in the third grade, according to a 2013 UCLA study.

To increase success for each student the Klamath Falls City Schools district is launching a new initiative aimed at getting every student to class, every day. Attendance has always been a priority at our schools, but beginning this fall families will notice the district is putting new resources to work.

This includes a web-based attendance management and intervention program. The new system will not only allow us to do a better job of tracking student attendance, but also automate our correspondence with families when absenteeism becomes an issue. Because all of our school sites will be using the new organization, we will all be working together in a coordinated effort.

These changes will give our staff more time to concentrate on early intervention and working with families on the challenges they face getting their children to school.

We understand the complex, fast-paced world that we all live in. Sometimes it might seem harmless to allow a child to stay home or miss a day because of a family outing. However, missing school is never harmless. Missing even one day puts a student behind and makes the path harder. This is why KFCS has developed such a focused approach. With the home and the school working more closely together, attendance will improve and increased school success will follow.