MEXICO — Regional School Unit 10 Superintendent Deborah Alden told directors Monday night that chronic absenteeism is rampant in the district.

“Data submitted indicates Buckfield Junior-Senior High School (in Buckfield) and Mountain Valley High School (in Rumford) have 25.82 percent and 46.47 percent of students, respectively, chronically absent,” according to an email from Janette Kirk, deputy director for the Maine Department of Education.

The email said media outlets requested data regarding chronic absenteeism for the 2016-17 school year.

Chronic absenteeism is defined in Maine as missing 10 percent or more of enrolled school days, Alden said.

“It’s already been a goal this year (to work on this problem),” Alden said.

Principals at the two high schools knew about the 2016-17 chronic absenteeism and “they’ve put this as a goal to work on,” Alden said. There’s much to do in this area, because a lot of it starts at the elementary grades, she said.


One program in use for freshmen at Mountain Valley is Building Assets, Reducing Risks, Principal Matthew Gilbert said. The program is funded by a three-year grant from BARR, an educational organization based in Minnesota.

“We are one of the programs that they are sponsoring for research this year,” Gilbert said. The program takes into account student attendance, student achievement rates, and student failure rates.

“We’ve developed a team for the freshmen that’s based around five teachers covering the core content areas of math, English, science, social studies and health and they meet every day and go over the data on all of the students and each individual student,” Gilbert said.

There are also tiers of interventions for students who aren’t successful in their classes. “We’ve seen a decrease in our failure rates for freshmen this year and we’ve seen an increase in our attendance for freshmen this year,” Gilbert said.

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