State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and counselors from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District visited homes of families today whose students were identified as being chronically absent. These visits are one of many outreach efforts, which also include online guidance and webinars, taken on by Thurmond and the California Department of Education (CDE) to combat the serious issue of chronic absenteeism, defined as missing at least 10 percent of the instructional days that a student was enrolled to attend school.
Thurmond, who worked for a community-based program that focused on reducing chronic absenteeism prior to serving in the California State Assembly, has made this issue a priority of his administration and has started setting up visits to school districts to volunteer directly on outreach efforts.
“We have to recognize this has been a challenging two years, likely the toughest time these students will face in their lifetime,” Thurmond said. “We have seen serious issues around attendance affect every area throughout our state over the past year. Now it’s important we do everything in our power to get those students back in the classroom.”
Source: SPI Takes Measures to Battle Chronic Absenteeism – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
By Joe Hong, CalMatters
As they await the release of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2022-23 state budget, school district officials across California are worried about losing millions of dollars all at once, resulting in staffing cuts in a time when students need more attention than ever.
After two years of not being penalized for declining enrollment during the pandemic, school districts are bracing for a sudden drop in revenues next year as their funding gets recalibrated to match current enrollment, which plummeted since Covid-19 first closed California’s schools.
“I’ve never ever seen a drop in enrollment come all at once like this,” said Andy Johnsen, superintendent at the San Marcos School District in north San Diego County. “The pandemic changed everything.”
Source: State’s schools risk ‘colossal’ loss of dollars as enrollment drops
BY Susan Hiland
The Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board will take a look Thursday at a new grant program geared toward keeping children in school.
School trustees will hear a presentation from Antoinette Miller, coordinator of Multi-tiered System of Supports on Learning Communities for the School Success Program Grant.
The grant was established for the purpose of implementing the K-12 education portion of the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun trustees to hear about efforts that aim to keep students in school
The many challenges presented by Covid-19 has led to an alarming number of students missing out on school-based learning opportunities. As districts and schools look towards recovery, we and our campaign partners are urging everyone to Rebound with Attendance!
The 2021 Attendance Awareness Campaign calls for starting in the spring to promote attendance and laying the foundation for ensuring students will attend classes this fall.
Building relationships, and creating opportunities over the summer will support the routine of showing up in person to a classroom. And, reviewing attendance data on an ongoing basis will help to identify, early on, students in need of outreach and possibly additional support.
Source: Launching the Attendance Awareness Campaign! – Attendance Works
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released, for the first time, statewide absenteeism data that provides information about the types of reasons students are absent. The “absenteeism by reason” (AR) reports available on the CDE Dataquest website offer an extensive statewide view of absenteeism numbers that can assist local educational agencies (LEAs) in their efforts to develop targeted attendance intervention strategies and support.
“Knowing why students are missing school is a crucial step in helping them stay in school,” said Thurmond. “These data add an extra layer of transparency to existing absenteeism information and a level of detail that school districts can utilize as they evaluate the effectiveness of existing attendance plans and compare absenteeism rates with other districts. It also creates an opportunity for school attendance staff throughout the state to collaborate and share best practices on methods to improve attendance, identifying specific actions that can help students and their families overcome attendance barriers.”
Source: New Attendance Data to Address Chronic Absenteeism – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Anya Kamenetz
From shiny red pencils reading “My Attendance Rocks!” to countless plaques and ribbons and trophies and certificates and gold stars: For as long as anyone can remember, taking attendance — and rewarding kids for simply showing up — is a time-honored school ritual.
For good reason: Just being there, day in, day out, happens to be one of the most important factors that determines a child’s success in school. And average daily head count forms the basis of school funding decisions at the federal, state and local level.
Yet now, like so many other aspects of education, that simple measure — “here” or “absent” — is not so simple anymore. States are having to update their attendance policies to cover the realities of virtual learning. And where school is being held in-person, strict coronavirus health protocols mean students must now stay home at the slightest sign of illness, or to quarantine in case of a potential exposure.
Source: With Students Attending School Virtually, Taking Roll Is Not So Simple : NPR
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 14 school attendance review boards (SARBs) have been designated as model programs by the State SARB for exemplary practices that have contributed to reducing chronic absenteeism rates and improving student attendance.
The announcement of the model SARBs follows the statewide school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The SARBs were recognized for successfulmulti-tiered attendance strategies used during the school year, which have been adapted and implemented during distance learning.
“Students who were chronically absent before schools closed due to the global health crisis are particularly at-risk for poor participation in distance learning,” said Thurmond. “School communities are navigating through unprecedented challenges; however, it is imperative that all students—especially those who have attendance issues—stay connected to ensure that they don’t fall behind. The attendance systems these model districts have put in place are examples that other districts throughout the state can review and utilize now and when schools reopen.”
Source: 2020 Model SARB Winners Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
The closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic has created an uncertain future in many ways. Although most students are not in a school building, we believe it is still essential for educators to keep up relationships with students and families who may be experiencing stress related to covid-19. Principals and other administrators can play a key role in organizing and leading this outreach.
Research shows that caring support can buffer the negative effects of adversity and stress students and families might experience. As our September 2019 brief, Using Chronic Absence Data to Improve Conditions for Learning explains, a sense of belonging and connection is an important factor of academic engagement.
To maintain relationships, schools can stay in touch with families using their regular methods, whether it be making phone calls home, sending text messages or emails, or posting letters on school websites. Many parents and students use social media, so consider posting information to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Make the connection positive and let individuals know that you care about them even if you aren’t meeting in person.
Source: Staying Connected in the Era of Coronavirus – Attendance Works
By Linda Jacobson
Monitoring how long students are logged in, asking them to answer a daily question or having them participate in an online discussion thread are among the common ways to take attendance in an online class.
But now with most students across the U.S. unexpectedly transitioning to virtual learning due to the spread of COVID-19, determining how many are maintaining a school routine will be among the many challenges for state and district leaders.
“For schools across the country that already had students learning in a blended environment, this transition — it’s not easy, but they are more prepared,” says Bruce Friend, chief operating officer of the Aurora Institute, formerly the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.
Source: Present and accounted for? Closures create attendance challenges | Education Dive
By Shawna De La Rosa
California was the first state to add funding for foster students’ needs some six years ago, but absenteeism among this group continues to be a factor. And they face difficulties beyond just poor attendance.
The Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD), which has the highest number of foster students in the country, announced earlier this year it would begin reporting the number of foster students in the district in addition to documenting how often those students change schools and their academic, social and emotional condition. Superintendent Austin Beutner will also develop pathways for foster students to segue into higher education through partnerships with colleges and other institutions.
Source: Transportation, mobility issues at root of California foster students’ high absenteeism | Education Dive
By Daily Republic Staff
The Solano County Office of Education this week announced the winners of the 2019 Solano Countywide Attendance Awareness Poster Contest, according to a press release.
September was Attendance Awareness Month and SCOE hosted the contest to provide school districts the opportunity to engage students in conversations about the critical role that school attendance has on student achievement. 72 students from school districts across Solano County submitted posters for consideration in the contest.
There were three categories in the contest with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in each category. These students will be recognized at their respective district school board meetings.
Source: Attendance Awareness poster winners announced
Today Attendance Works and nine national Attendance Awareness Campaign partners are pleased to announce that 803 superintendents across the country have signed the Superintendents Call to Action. These local superintendents are raising their voices to lead the effort to improve attendance starting in the early grades.
The top ten states with the most superintendents who signed the Call to Action are: California (133), Oregon (97), Kentucky (49), Washington (49), Connecticut (35), Georgia (35), West Virginia (27), Mississippi (26), Iowa (25), and Michigan (25). Find the complete list of superintendents on pages 3-11 of this press release. The names are also listed on our website.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, in recognition of September as Attendance Awareness Month, encourages local education agencies (LEA) throughout the state to continue efforts to combat chronic absenteeism.
“Students of color, foster youth, homeless youth, students with disabilities and students who are in rural areas have some of the highest chronic absenteeism rates in the state,” said Thurmond. “When these students – who are already facing academic challenges due to poverty, unstable home environment or inequitable resources – miss school that widens the achievement gap, especially for our early learners. Everyone who comes in contact with our students can contribute to their learning success. Parents, teachers, attendance supervisors, caregivers and community groups must work as a cohesive unit and implement positive strategies to ensure that students are in class each day.”
Source: Continuing to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism Rates – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)
Districts considering major paperless transitions should heed Jones’ advice about providing ample training ahead of time. Videos work well for new processes in many cases because they can be viewed independently and rewatched for further clarity.
The long-term benefits of going paper-free also pay off on the initial investment. Printing, copying and distributing paper documents is a waste of time, money and resources, with schools spending an average of $50,000 a year on paper and ink. Today’s students also often prefer to work on screens rather than paper.
Source: ‘Paperless First Day’ attendance recording boosts efficiency – Education Dive
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.
Source: Attendance Awareness Campaign Update for May 1
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.”
Source: 2019 Model School Attendance Review Board Winners – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)
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?”
Source: Jay-Z items offered to Vallejo High students for good attendance – Times-Herald
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.
Source: Bill to start school later close to becoming law – KEYT
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.
Source: ESSA Funds Can Be Used to Reduce Chronic Absence – Attendance Works
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.
Source: September is Attendance Awareness Month – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)