Study: The more kids go to school, the more they stay in school

      COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - When schools focus on attendance at a young age, the challenge of keeping kids in class becomes a little easier, researchers say.

      "Everybody agrees, the more the kids are in school, the better it is," Latham Elementary School principal Brian McCasline said.

      A study by the University of Chicago found that a student's attendance as early as pre-K is crucial to their education as early as prekindergarten.

      The study found that missing 10 percent of the school year - about 2 days per month - can lead to weaker reading skills and a higher probablitity of dropping out of high school.

      While nationwide dropout rates are down, Oregon is still one of the leaders in absenteeism.

      "There's a lot of students who will miss time hunting, and for other outings that are not school related," said McCasline. "Even though those are great for family relations, for a student's education, it's detrimental."

      However, Oregon holds their schools accountable for student absences. It is one of the few states to count absences toward a school's performance.

      In short, if kids are going to class, the school gets a good report card.

      In order to encourage attendance, many schools like Latham Elementary are rewarding students for going to class.

      South Lane School District Superintendant Krista Parent said each classroom has their own policies to reward students.

      Some teachers give out things individually, while others celebrate if the entire class comes in to school.

      At Latham, attendance is celebrated school wide.

      "Every other week we have an incentive from Papa Murphy's or a free pencil or those sort of things," said McCasline. "And then at the end of the year, we have bigger prizes like gift certificates and gift cards."

      Both said the incentives have worked so far. They've seen improvements in attendances district-wide.