We’re celebrating this seventh annual Attendance Awareness Campaign with the theme, We Belong in School! We are encouraging everyone to remember that students are more likely to attend school if they feel safe, connected and supported, and believe they can learn and achieve. The “We” emphasizes the need all students have to feel they belong in school. It also highlights the role everyone, from educators to health professionals, to local agency and business partners can play in creating welcoming and engaging schools that encourage daily attendance.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 23 school attendance programs were recognized as model School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) for outstanding strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism and increase student attendance.
“In order for students to reach their full learning potential, they need to be in school,” said State Superintendent Thurmond. “These exemplary attendance programs have reduced chronic absenteeism rates at the district level and have been able to provide the necessary support to students who are the most vulnerable and at risk of becoming a chronic absentee. This recognition is well-deserved, and I hope that other districts will follow the lead of the model SARBs and replicate their methods so we can get all of our students back in class and on the pathway to graduation and a successful future.”
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Vallejo resident Hazel Wilson and the lead faculty of Vallejo High School think they’ve hit on a way to “incentivize” chronically absent students into attending school, and in some cases provide needed clothing to boot.
Wilson, a former Vallejo City Unified School District board member, said she was recently offered several hundred apparel items from rapper Jay-Z’s organization, through CC and Amber Sabathia’s PitCCh In Foundation, and they are being put to what is hoped will be good use – to bring up students’ attendance and grades.
“They contacted me about having this merchandise left over from Jay-Z’s 2017 tour, and offered it to us,” Wilson said. “I met with the Vallejo High School administration – Principal (Sheila) Quintana and Student Support Provider Reyanna Stowes-Davis – and we sat down and discussed how can these items make the biggest impact?”
By Dave Alley
Older students in California may be able to sleep in a little longer in the future if Governor Brown signs a bill that is now on his desk.
SB 328 would require that all middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and was recently approved by the both houses of State Legislature.
It was written by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) in an effort to help give students more time to sleep.
With so many states (36 plus the District of Columbia) now using chronic absenteeism as an accountability metric as part of their plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), many might wonder how ESSA funding mechanisms can be used to help improve attendance.
There are several pots of money in ESSA that states can tap, including funds targeted at promoting academic success for disadvantaged students. Other funds can go towards engaging parents and families or improving “school conditions for student learning.”
FutureEd, a think tank at Georgetown University,lays out some of the options in a blog post:
- Title I provides more than $15 billion to support schools educating low-income students and school improvement efforts. Since low-income students are both more likely to be chronically absent and more likely to suffer academically because of those missed days, improving attendance becomes an important strategy.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in recognition of September as Attendance Awareness Month, said school districts, public agencies, community groups, students, and their families must work together to combat chronic absenteeism.
“Students aren’t learning if they are not in class. Cohesive partnerships, intervention strategies, and solid support services create attendance teams that are armed with the necessary tools to identify and help students struggling with attendance problems,” said Torlakson. “By combining resources and working together, school attendance administrators, parents, and community organizations can build systems to reduce chronic absenteeism rates that are positive and effective, not negative and punitive.”
A recent report by Attendance Works, Children Now, and the UC Davis Center for Regional Change noted that high levels of chronic absence in a school are a sign that additional support from the district, other public agencies, and nonprofits is needed.
The recent shift in federal education policy prompted by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has helped raise the stakes for schools around student absences. Under ESSA, at least 37 states are now looking at school-level chronic absence rates as their non-academic indicator in their ESSA plans. The implications of this are important. Previous policies assumed that parents were primarily responsible for attendance and answerable to absences. Now in many states, state policy indicates that absenteeism is an issue that schools have to address.
What, then, are schools to do in order to move the needle on student attendance? As researchers work toward understanding the impact of different interventions and practices, on-the-ground experiences in schools highlight the pervasive use of incentives from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Schools have employed a wide range of incentives to improve attendance, with varied levels of success, according to senior researchers Rekha Balu at MDRC and Stacy Ehrlich at NORC at the University of Chicago.
In their article published February 2018 in JASPER, Making Sense out of Incentives: A Framework for Considering the Design, Use, and Implementation of Incentives to Improve Attendance, Balu and Ehrlich provide a framework to help school staff think about how—and when—to use incentives to improve student attendance. A number of other earlier research studies show the negative impact chronic absence has on student academic achievement.
By Kevin Kelly
Chronic absenteeism, usually defined as missing 10 percent or more of the days in a school year, is a widespread challenge that can lead to long-term problems. Data from the Office of Civil Rights suggest that 51 percent of Pennsylvania schools have 10 percent or more of their students chronically absent. Students who are chronically absent miss out on learning and are more prone to dropping out than their peers who attend school regularly.
The School Support and Improvement Research Alliance at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory (REL MA) recently held a workshop, developed in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), to provide information to educators about chronic absenteeism: what it is, how to measure it, and what research says about addressing it. The workshop met an important informational need in Pennsylvania, as the state will use chronic absenteeism as a measure of school quality and student success as a part of its approved Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plan.
We are excited to join with our national partners to launch Attendance Awareness Campaign 2018! America’s Promise Alliance, Attendance Works, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Everyone Graduates Center, Get Schooled, Healthy Schools Campaign, the Institute for Educational Leadership, Mentor, Points of Light and United Way Worldwide invite you to join us for the sixth year of the Attendance Awareness Campaign, which designates September as Attendance Awareness Month.
This year we encourage everyone to remember that community-wide engagement matters for attendance. Under this year’s theme, Team Up for Attendance! we are emphasizing the role everyone, from educators to health professionals, to local agency and business partners can play in creating a welcoming and engaging school environment that motivates students and families to come to school every day.
Our four-part webinar series will focus on key partners and the important role they can play in addressing chronic absence. During our first webinar on March 28, Team Up for Attendance: Leadership Matters, we officially launch the campaign and pass along how to get involved!
By Nico Savidge
As the school day ends at Peyton Elementary School in Stockton, Christina Del Prato calls a mother whose daughter was absent 62 times last year. The girl has missed 21 days through the first half of this year, including the past two days.
Del Prato, an attendance case manager, is a key player in an effort being waged across the state to focus not just on students with unexcused absences but on those who are chronically absent, meaning they have missed at least 10 percent of school days for any reason.
California collected and released data on chronic absenteeism from schools for the first time last year as part of its new accountability system. A school’s chronic absenteeism rate could be included as soon as this fall on the districts’ dashboard, which shows how students are doing on multiple measures.
By Richard Bammer
A discussion of 2018-19 budget priorities will be among the more significant items of an otherwise relatively light agenda when Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Michelle Henson, assistant superintendent of business services, will lead the discussion, which will be based on Gov. Jerry Brown’s $190 billion 2018-19 state budget proposal, released in January and due for revision in May.
Her presentation, casting an eye on the impact of the state’s numbers on the district’s, will come two weeks after she led a budget presentation at the trustees’ Jan. 25 meeting.
Specifically, Henson will note that projected average daily attendance (ADA) funding for the coming year will be about $9,450 for each of the district’s estimated 20,550 students, yielding some $194 million in state funding under Brown’s landmark Local Control Funding Formula. Additionally, she will tell the seven-member governing board, one-time discretionary funds from the current year will account for some $6 million in additional funds spent on students.
Attendance Works is pleased to announce the release of its chronic absence reports for early childhood programs in partnership with ChildPlus and with COPA, two leading data management systems for Head Start and other early childhood programs.
Both online systems translate attendance data into charts that provide a clear picture of the level of chronic absence. This data will help Head Start agencies set strategies and target resources to address attendance challenges. Each chart links back to individual children. The online services make otherwise hard-to find information readily available, so professionals can spend time addressing rather than defining their attendance challenges.
By Richard Bammer
The executive director’s monthly report, the student performance index, the Kairos Innovative Scholars Program, and the likely approval of a capitalization policy are on the agenda tonight when the Kairos board of directors meet in Vacaville.
As part of his student performance report, Executive Director Jared Austin will offer data about the Elm Street campus’ demographics, language proficiency, special education, state and federal accountability measures, attendance, community service, school climate and student conduct.
Leslie Shelby, KISP coordinator, will present the yearly update on the independent and homeschool study program, which has about 50 out of 550 students enrolled.
Chief business officer, Anita Schwab will present the resolution for the capitalization policy, necessary to set a reasonable threshold for all types of school assets and to include the depreciation method used to make calculations about the useful life of those assets.
A new survey by researchers shows that secondary students don’t really know how many days they miss from school each year, or how their absence rate compares with their peers. When asked why they missed school, the students in grades 6-12 named health, transportation and personal stress-related issues as the top three reasons they don’t come to class.
The survey, Reasons for Chronic Absenteeism Among Secondary Students, by Amber Humm Brundage and Jose Castillo at the University of South Florida, points out that students, their families, educators and communities don’t fully understand how many absences can put a student at risk academically. In the fall of 2016, the team surveyed 5,790 chronically absent secondary students—missed 10 percent or more of days during 2015-16 school year—from eight states and 91 schools.
“It is nearly impossible for critical stakeholders (parents, students, school, community, state) to fix a problem if they do not know it exists!” said Brundage. “Our survey shows that engaging in clear and consistent messaging for the purposes of building awareness of typical and acceptable levels of absences, as well as current numbers of absences, is still very much needed in schools across the country,” she added.
By Richard Bammer
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who declared September as Attendance Awareness Month in an effort, in part, to stem chronic absenteeism, wants school district leaders, staff and teachers to remind families about the importance of being in class each day.
Vacaville Unified trustees, who this morning will convene a special governing board workshop, are expected to hear the message that, in one way or another, links chronic absenteeism to high dropout rates, poor literacy skills and behavior problems, among other things, and key preventive measures that parents should begin taking as early as kindergarten.
In an annual district report, Kimberly Forrest, assistant superintendent for student services, and Ramiro Barron, interim director of student attendance and welfare, will lead the discussion and offer a data-filled slide presentation, of outcomes and procedures related to student attendance, suspensions and expulsions — and offer solutions — during the gathering in the Educational Services Center.
The Solano County Office of Education (SCOE) is proud to partner with your local school district in coordinating a comprehensive effort to boost student attendance by addressing chronic absences. Chronic absences occur when a student misses 10 percent or more total school days, about 18 days per year, for any reason including excused absences.
Why is chronic absence so important?
Research proves that students who are chronically absent in Kindergarten and 1st grade are far less likely to read proficiently by 3rd grade.
For every day of school missed, it takes three days to make up what was taught.
By the 6th grade, if a student continues to be chronically absent, it is a leading indicator of whether he or she will drop out of high school.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in recognition of September as Attendance Awareness Month, is encouraging school districts and staff to remind families about the importance of daily attendance and help them overcome challenges that can lead to chronic absenteeism.
“Interventions to reduce chronic absenteeism should be supportive and not punitive,” said Torlakson. “There are many students who miss school days due to issues beyond their control at the start of the school year like an illness or transportation problems. It is important to identify and link students and families to appropriate school and community resources when students miss the first days of school.”
As part of California’s efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism, recently enacted legislation expanded the role of attendance supervisors to include tracking student attendance, promoting a culture of attendance, and developing interventions to reduce chronic absenteeism.
For the first time, the California Department of Education (CDE) is collecting chronic absenteeism rates in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). This data is critical in helping school administrators and attendance supervisors identify where chronic absenteeism is concentrated in each school district.
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified leaders late last week were nowhere near a school cafeteria but they heard plenty of information from representatives of an advocacy educational resources firm that provided food for thought as the district’s new academic year begins Thursday.
Two employees from the Sacramento-based School Services of California Inc., which offers business, financial, management and support for the state’s 1,000 school districts, laid out the numbers during Thursdays’s governing board meeting, an comparative analysis of district income and expenses side-by-side with a dozen primarily other Bay Area districts for the 2015-16 year (the most recent for which their specific data was available).
School district officials had requested the analysis, Sheila Vickers, a company vice president, told trustees. The analysis and comparisons cast an eye on districts with similar average daily attendance and percentages of “unduplicated” students, that is, English learners, low-income and foster youth.
The recently submitted state plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) show that chronic absence is gaining traction as an indicator of school quality and student success. As this chart shows, the majority—14 out of the 17 officially submitted ESSA plans—includes some variant of chronic absence as an accountability indicator and many other states with plans in preparation seem likely to follow suit.
Attendance Works is excited by the opportunity that the increased focus on chronic absence provides because it has the potential to increase student achievement substantially. We now know that excessive student absences are a proven, widespread, and consequential problem in American schools. National data from the Office for Civil Rights shows that at least 6.8 million public school students missed 15 or more days of school in 2013-14, and it affects at least 89 percent of the nation’s school districts. Several high quality research studies show that the impact of chronic absence leads to lower achievement, disengagement and often dropout. Yet chronic absence can be reversed and, when attendance improves, student achievement is likely to improve.
The State School Attendance Review Board (SARB), an advisory panel to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI), has developed a sample policy on attendance supervision that is consistent with state laws that became effective on January 1, 2017.
With the passage of Assembly Bill 2815 in 2016, the role of attendance supervisors has been expanded to include more effective practices to address chronic absenteeism and truancy. These changes are designed to help promote a culture of attendance and improve local systems to track student attendance by grade level and subgroup.
The new laws directly relate to the priorities districts must address in their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP). Addressing chronic absence is included as a State Priority in the Pupil Engagement section of the LCAP template.