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.
Source: September is Attendance Awareness Month – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
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.
Source: Vacaville school district ranked in detailed income-expense comparative analysis
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.
Source: Making the Most of Attendance Indicators – Attendance Works Attendance Works
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.
Source: Sample Policy & Administrative Regulation – School Attendance Review Boards (CA Dept of Education)
Educators in states across the country are seeing that current immigration policy changes are leading to increased chronic absence. As a way to reassure parents and students that school is a safe place for learning, states, districts and schools have posted resources as a way to encourage immigrant students to continue getting to school every day. We’ve complied a few for you.
Resources range from letters sent to school communities and families reaffirming anti-discrimination polices, to toolkits with tips for dealing with anxious students, to videos for parents on how to communicate with their young children on topics that are particularly difficult to tackle, such as bullying. Watch this video, in Spanish with English subtitles, from Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors.
Many districts offer fact sheets with answers to questions such as, ‘What impact does undocumented immigration status have on my child’s education?’ and ‘If I am a parent or guardian and I am worried about being detained while my child is at school, what should I do?’
Source: Educators respond to immigration policies – Attendance Works Attendance Works
By Daily Republic Staff
The Fairfield-Suisun School District is one of 27 school attendance programs recognized as model School Attendance Review Boards by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
“Students need to be in school to learn,” Torlakson said in a press release announcing the honors. “The terrific work of the review boards is a testament to the collaboration between the school, parents and community so that all students have the opportunity to succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college.”
The number of districts that applied to the Model SARB Recognition Program tripled since 2016, said a press release from Torlakson’s office. The state SARB, a panel appointed by Torlakson, reviewed the applications.
Source: State recognizes Fairfield-Suisun School District’s attendance program
By Richard Bammer
The newly released state public school and district accountability system, which uses multiple measures of school progress and performance, gets a mixed reaction from Vacaville Unified’s chief academic officer.
“Overall, I like the concept and the idea of looking at multiple sources of data; I think that’s really good,” Mark Frazier said of the California School Dashboard, launched last month by the state Department of Education.
“But one of the things that is disappointing is, that some of the data they’re using (suspension rate, English learner progress and graduation rate) is not as up-to-date as it could be,” he added. “That data is so old it’s hard to interpret.”
Source: Vacaville Unified official: New school accountability system gets mixed marks
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 27 school attendance programs were recognized as Model School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) for innovative and effective practices to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and chronic absenteeism.
“Students need to be in school to learn. The terrific work of the review boards is a testament to the collaboration between the school, parents, and community so that all students have the opportunity to succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said.
The number of districts that applied to the Model SARB Recognition Program tripled since 2016. The State SARB, an expert panel appointed by Torlakson, reviewed the applications.
Source: 2017 Model School Attendance Program Winners – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Like all educators, Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders take chronic absenteeism seriously, but their engaged, coordinated efforts to deal with students who are absent more than three weeks during a school year have been recognized by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
In a press release issued Thursday, he cited the district as one of 27 statewide with Model School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs), taking into account “innovative and effective practices to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and chronic absenteeism.”
“Students need to be in school to learn,” Torlakson said in the prepared statement. “The terrific work of the review boards is a testament to the collaboration between the school, parents, and community so that all students have the opportunity to succeed on their way to 21st-century careers and college.”
Source: FSUSD recognized for its Model School Attendance program
By Ryan McCarthy
The Public Safety Academy that opened in 2012 has a higher attendance rate than other schools in the Fairfield-Suisun School District, few suspensions and “is doing very well,” says a self study for its accreditation.
School district trustees take up the self study at their meeting Thursday.
Former Fairfield Police Chief Walt Tibbet, former Suisun City Police Chief Ed Dadisho and retired school district Superintendent Jacki Cottingim-Dias originally conceived the public safety academy program, the report states.
The academy’s 97.3 percent attendance rate from August to December 2016 is higher than rates for elementary, middle and high schools in the district, according to the report.
Source: Report: High attendance rate, few suspensions at Public Safety Academy
By Bea Karnes
Solano County Office of Education has joined a nationwide initiative to celebrate Attendance Awareness Month in September and has pledged to raise awareness about the value of regular school attendance
focusing on reducing chronic absenteeism in the new school year.
Solano County Office of Education recognizes that good attendance is essential to academic success, but too often students, parents and schools don’t realize how quickly absences, excused or unexcused, can add up to academic trouble.
Source: Solano County Student Poster Contest Brings Awareness to School Attendance
There’s a new report card for a group of school districts in California that takes an innovative approach to providing a holistic view of a school’s success in supporting student achievement. The School Quality Improvement Index (SQII), used by six* districts in the state, moves away from primarily relying on test scores and expands the metrics to include chronic absence, school climate, and student growth. The new system is closely being watched as a possible model to comply with new reporting requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed by President Obama in December.
Source: CORE: California’s SQII scores measure the whole school environment – Attendance Works Attendance Works
By Jane Meredith Adams
California will begin its first statewide collection of data on students who are chronically absent, a key indicator of academic trouble, the California Department of Education said Thursday.
The need for a statewide pool of absenteeism data long has been disputed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who in 2014 vetoed two attendance-collection bills and wrote, “Keeping children in school and learning is a priority, but collecting more data is not the primary solution.”
The change is the result of the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed by President Barack Obama in December, which requires states to collect and report data on chronic absenteeism.
via State to begin collecting data on students who are chronically absent | EdSource.
States will be required to report chronic absenteeism rates for Title I schools, and school districts will be allowed to spend federal dollars on training to reduce absenteeism, under a sweeping education bill signed into law by President Obama on Thursday.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or No Child Left Behind, represents the first time that federal education law specifically mentions this measure of attendance. Chronic absence differs from truancy in that it tracks both excused and unexcused absences.
Its inclusion reflects the increasing awareness in Washington and across the country that chronic absence is a key indicator for assessing school and student success.
via New Federal Education Law Includes Chronic Absence Tracking, Training – Attendance Works Attendance Works.
The federal government today took up the fight against chronic absence with a cross-sector initiative aimed at helping states, school districts and communities address the root causes of absenteeism. The Every Student, Every Day initiative will harness support from the White House and the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Justice.
“It’s common-sense – students have to be in their classrooms to learn, yet too many of our children, and most often our most vulnerable children, are missing almost a month or more of school every year,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement, who announced the initiative at a Washington, D.C. elementary school after an awards ceremony honoring students with improved attendance.
via Federal Officials Launch Chronic Absence Initiative – Attendance Works Attendance Works.
By Jane Meredith Adams
Elementary school absenteeism remains “persistently high” in California, but more schools are tracking absences and working to address the root problems that keep students out of classrooms, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Wednesday as she released new statewide attendance data.
Attendance reflects student health – physical, emotional and behavioral – and for several years, Harris has declared chronic absenteeism an urgent problem affecting student achievement, dropout rates and crime. On Wednesday, she revived her plea for a statewide attendance database that would help districts identify students, particularly those who move from one district to another, who are in need of intervention to resolve health issues, transportation problems and school suspensions that can cause chronic absenteeism.
via Chronic student absentee rate remains high, but tracking improves | EdSource.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that local educational agencies (LEAs)—which include school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education—will continue to receive state funding despite a possible loss of student attendance because of the wildfires.
“My deepest sympathies for the families, fire fighters, communities, students, and school districts that have been affected by the wildfires,” said Torlakson. “In an emergency like this, I want to assure them that their schools will continue to receive state support, while we help find facilities where their children can continue their education.”
The California Department of Education is working with districts to find facilities for students displaced from their schools by the wildfires, including portable classrooms. Districts affected by the wildfires whose teachers educate students in portable or other temporary classrooms, even if physically located outside their own district boundaries, can continue to count these students in their Average Daily Attendance (ADA).
via Districts and Students Affected by Wildfires – Year 2015 (CA Dept of Education).
California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris this week delivered an impressive report on absenteeism that exposes the scope of the problem across the state but also demonstrates the progress that districts are making toward addressing this problem.
The report, In School On Track 2015, calculates that an estimated 230,000 California elementary students are chronically absent, missing 18 or more days in the 2014-15 school year. That’s 8 percent of elementary students.
via California Report Shows Scope of Absenteeism, Progress in Tracking Data – Attendance Works Attendance Works.
Two years ago, the federal government took an enormous step toward providing the first national data on chronic absenteeism. The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) asked the school districts it surveys to report how many students are missing 15 or more days in a school year. The data will be released for the first time next spring, providing a font of information about the who, what and where of chronic absence. We can’t wait to dig into it.
But we want more. OCR is asking for input by Monday, Aug. 3, on its Civil Rights Data Collection program, and Attendance Works is submitting these comments. We encourage you to submit comments as well on this link. Feel free to lift any or all of the comments we’ve developed.
Chiefly we want OCR to change its definition of chronic absence from missing 15 days to missing 10 percent of the school year. There are several reasons.
via Change the Way the Feds Collect Attendance Data – Attendance Works Attendance Works.
Why do teenagers miss so much school? And what can we do to get them to come back to class?
Get Schooled, a nonprofit that connects to thousands of students across the country, decided to find out. In late July, the group conducted an e-mail survey of 15,000 students active on the Get Schooled website. More than 1,300 students from 46 states responded, a mix of age groups and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Only a quarter of the students reported missing more than five days in the year.
The reasons they gave for missing school were enlightening:
- I wasn’t feeling well: 79%
- I had obligations with my family: 40%
- I didn’t feel like it: 21%
- I didn’t do my homework/study for a test: 17
- I didn’t have a ride: 10%
via Why Do Teens Miss School? – Attendance Works Attendance Works.