Every Day Matters Update: January 2020

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves together - follow at ORDEPTED on twitter

January 2020


In our collective work to reduce absenteeism, Southern Oregon ESD (SOESD) is focusing on shifting ways of being and doing in schools in an effort to align schools with the needs and aspirations of students and their families they serve. Central to this effort is creating the systems and supports needed to ensure that our schools are places where every student, educator, and family member knows they are safe, they belong, and that they matter. Since October 2018, SOESD has been supporting trainings in Positive Discipline in the Classroom, an integrated Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)-Discipline program that is trauma-informed and culturally-sensitive. Developed by Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott, this research-based program is designed to build strong communities by building skills in both adults and young people to be respectful and resourceful contributing members of their communities. The curriculum aligns completely with the criteria set out by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) while also supporting educators with tools for maintaining firmness and structures necessary to keep a school healthy. There is a parallel program for parents to support families that can be led by parents in the community after a two-day training.

Our primary resource for this work has been Jody McVittie, MD, a Positive Discipline Lead Trainer and founder of Sound Discipline, a Seattle-based non-profit that has expanded this work and supported whole school implementations in Washington for 12 years. Her deep experience working with a variety of public schools (K-12) with diverse populations makes her a valuable resource for our region. Since October 2018, Dr. McVittie has offered five two-day trainings in Positive Discipline in the Classroom attended by educators from multiple districts. 


Sound discipline school model

Butte Falls School District has been able to train nearly their entire staff and have implemented changes district-wide. Superintendent Phil Long has credited the drastic drop in their chronic absenteeism rate this year primarily to a culture and climate shift through implementation of the Positive Discipline philosophy since August of 2019. 

Here’s a breakdown of Butte Falls School District’s Chronic Absenteeism (CA) data over the past two years:

37.0%: 2017-18 CA Rate

30.0%: 2018-19 CA Rate

19.2%: November 2019 CA Rate

Congratulations, Butte Falls School District!

Why is implementing the philosophy of Positive Discipline so impactful to school climate and culture? Because educators learn:

  • How to become a classroom leader instead of a classroom “manager.”
  • The importance of self-regulation in a classroom and how to make self-regulation part of a routine so there is brain space for learning.
  • Ways to increase a sense of belonging in their classrooms.
  • How to help students “get” that they matter – to their teacher and their classmates.
  • How to create a shared vision for the space so the teacher is not always the “enforcer” of rules.
  • How to teach students about their brain so they can understand their own behavior better and be more helpful to others.
  • How to engage in authentic problem solving both one on one and with groups of students.

After a day spent with facilitator Jody McVittie (this 5 minute video illustrates her work in a nutshell), the Southern Region’s Regional Capacity Builder, Kirsten Valenzuela, asked district teams to gather and agree on a statement that used this sentence frame: “Our district team used to think ______. Now we think ______.” Some of the responses included:

  • We used to think that we could not improve our chronic absenteeism rate. Now we think that if we have courage and we are kind, we can improve attendance district-wide.
  • We used to think there was no hope and no other way of doing things. Now we think that we can support our kids and families, rather than punish them.
  • We used to think that we needed to notify parents. Now we think that we need to encourage and support them.
  • We used to think that behavior was annoying. Now we see that behavior is a solution to another problem.

Chronic absenteeism is a complex problem – and the responsibility doesn’t lie completely with students and their families. When schools shift their cultures to include dignity and respect, when they work to help ensure that students are connected and know they matter, students will naturally attend school more regularly. 

Shifting school culture is not an easy fix. In Southern Oregon we are now finding tools to support schools and their educators so that they can work effectively together to build stronger school communities in which students feel safe, know they belong and that they matter. The early data is coming in and the approach is making a difference for attendance. More importantly, it is making a difference for our children and educators every single day.

For more information on this approach to improving climate and culture in your schools, please contact Southern Oregon Regional Capacity Builder Kirsten Valenzuela.

National Research

A Review of School Climate Research 

By Thapa, Cohen, Guffey, and Higgins-D’Alessandro, Review of Educational Research, 2013

Abstract: For more than a century, there has been a growing interest in school climate. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Institute for Educational Sciences, a growing number of State Departments of Education, foreign educational ministries, and UNICEF have focused on school climate reform as an evidence-based school improvement strategy that supports students, parents/guardians, and school personnel learning and working together to create ever safer, more supportive and engaging K–12 schools. This work presents an integrative review on school climate research. The 206 citations used in this review include experimental studies, correlational studies, literature reviews, and other descriptive studies. The review focuses on five essential dimensions of school climate: Safety, Relationships, Teaching and Learning, Institutional Environment, and the School Improvement Process. We conclude with a critique of the field and a series of recommendations for school climate researchers and policymakers.

School building condition, social climate, student attendance and academic achievement: A mediation model

By Halis Sakiz, Educational Psychology, 2017

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to report outcomes of a school-based programme aiming to promote achievement, attendance and positive perceptions towards the school climate and social-emotional adaptation among students with disabilities (SWD). The programme included a series of training and social activities for school staff, parents and children followed by implementation of the knowledge gained through these activities. The programme lasted one school year and data were collected through quantitative and qualitative methods. Results of the study indicated enhanced student attendance and achievement, social-emotional development, and positive perceptions about the school climate. In addition, parents and teachers were mostly content with development of students and the attempts of their schools to prompt student learning. Findings of this research indicate the significance of the holistic approach in educating SWD in mainstream schools and confirm that schools can make progress relying on their internal structures and planned action.

Other Resources

Fostering School Connectedness This 4 page guide includes 6 strategies and actions teachers and staff can take to increase school connectedness.

Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity: The Keys to Successful Equity Implementation by Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple

Wanting to understand the climate in your school? Take a look at these surveys and resources to know the climate of your building:

National School Climate Center's Comprehensive School Climate Inventory (CSCI)

National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments' ED School Climate Surveys (EDSCLS)

Attendance Works' Scan of Environment and Attendance (SEAT)

NCSSLE's School Climate Survey Compendium

QR Code to go to https://bit.ly/2xQf8r8

The Every Day Matters team has a folder of many guidance documents, data, marketing resources, and more!


Future Events

Listening Sessions

With the passage of House Bill 2191 (2019) and House Bill 2556 (2019), the ODE is in the process of reviewing the OARs to update and potentially create new rules to facilitate the implementation of these bills. The beginning of this process includes listening sessions and public comment. The Every Day Matters team is developing a January-March schedule of listening sessions, both in schools/school districts/ESDs and in public spaces. Folks are invited to attend these brief sessions to understand the law and give feedback for consideration when developing OARs.

Please take a few minutes to give us feedback on these bills and attendance policies in Oregon overall (translations into multiple languages coming soon!). 

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Contact Us!

To contact the Every Day Matters team at the Oregon Department of Education, please email us at: EveryDayMatters@state.or.us

Visit our website at: https://www.every-day-matters.org/

Connect with us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/EveryDayMatters/