California Highlights

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  • Chronic absence is a top priority for the California Department of Education (CDE). The CDE provides ongoing guidance and information to districts about how to improve attendance through its State School Attendance Review Board, its SARB Handbook (updated in 2015) and its Model SARB recognition program. In addition, the CDE uses this chronic absence display (above), updated to reflect the U.S. Department of Education’s data release, in the lobby of their Sacramento headquarters to raise awareness.
  • The State Superintendent of Public Instruction also frequently uses his office to promote action, such as this February, 2016 letter encouraging districts to invest in dental health services, and this letter in August 2015 prompting school districts to get involved in Attendance Awareness Month. The Superintendent sent this letter from December 2015 on strategies appropriate for this time of year.
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  • The California Attorney General’s Office has analyzed the extent and impact of elementary chronic absence and truancy since 2013. The most recent 2016 report shows that chronic absence affects 7.3% of California elementary school students, with disproportionately high rates of absenteeism and suspensions for youth of color, as well as low-income, homeless, foster and special education students. Click here for more information.
  • Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 11.08.29 PMThe AG’s office, the Ad Council, and the California Endowment released a Positive Parent Messaging toolkit in February 2016. The toolkit includes research, communication tools based on the research, and recommendations for district and community leaders. Click here to read our blog about the survey behind the toolkit.
  • California Chief Justice and Chair of the Judicial Council Tani Cantil-Sakaute launched a Keep Kids in School and Out of Court initiative in 2014 and sent a letter to Juvenile Court judges.

 

MAPPING THE GAP

Read Mapping the Early Attendance Gap:  Charting A Course for School Success.  This report, released by Attendance Works and Healthy Schools Campaign in September 2015, encourages states to dig deep into their attendance data and determine the who, what, when, where and why of their chronic absence problem. Read the in-depth state profiles for California, Rhode Island, and Utah.

LEGISLATION AND STATE POLICY

  • Local Control Funding Formula:  Led by Governor Jerry Brown (D) and advocacy organizations such as Children Now, California enacted a historic Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013 that targets considerable resources to high-need students and enables far greater local discretion over the use of funds. Read more at the California Department of Education’s LCFF overview page
  • Chronic Absence Definition: In September 2010, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed legislation that encourages districts to collect chronic absence data and add the data to the CALPADS longitudinal student data base, as long as funding was available. This supports an early warning system for identifying students at high risk of dropping out. See analysis about the law.
  • Attendance Awareness Month Resolution: On September 11, 2014, the California legislature approved Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 149, authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber and declaring September 2014 as School Attendance Awareness Month.  Watch the media briefing on YouTube, and read more on the Attendance Works blog.
  • The California School Board Association released a  model Chronic Absence and Truancy policy in Spring 2015.

ENGAGEMENT

EVENTS

2015 Webinar on California Principals

The California Department of Education, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and Attendance Works hosted a webinar Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. PT spotlighting the work of California principals who have led their schools and communities to do the hard work of reducing chronic absence. View the recording here.

2015 Chronic Absence Regional Summit

State education and law enforcement leaders came together with about 300 educators in California’s Riverside County on Sept. 18, 2015 to discuss strategies for improving school attendance. The Reducing Chronic Absenteeism Regional Summit drew a range of stakeholders, including state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson; Jill Habig, Special Assistant Attorney General of California; Attendance Works Director Hedy Chang; Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin; and Riverside County Superintendent, Kenneth Young. One local district, Corona-Norco Unified, was specially recognized for its effective, data-driven approach to reducing absences.

2014 News Conference

California state leaders gathered in Sacramento to recognize Attendance Awareness Month and launch an interagency effort to combat chronic absence. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Secretary of Health and Human Services Diana S. Dooley, Assembly Member Shirley Weber, Superior Court Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie and Special Assistant Attorney General Jill E. Habig each committed to address chronic absenteeism in their own arena. Read more here and watch it live here.

2013 Policy Forum

Working Together: An Interagency State Policy Forum on Chronic Absence featured state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Secretary of Health and Human Services Diane Dooley, along with other state officials, discussing how agencies can work together to reduce chronic absence.

2011 Policy Forum

Hedy in Cali Taking Attendance Seriously: Promoting School Success by Preventing Chronic Absence was co-sponsored by Attendance
Works and the Chronic Absence and Attendance Partnership in May 2011. The forum, hosted by state SuperintendentTom Torlakson, introduced the importance of tracking chronic absence.

ADVOCACY LEAD

The Chronic Absence and Attendance Partnership (CAAP) has been the leading advocacy network promoting the chronic absence related events and achievements described on this page. CAAP is led by Attendance Works, Children Now and the Partnership for Children and Youth.

CAAP works to improve outcomes for students at risk of poor academic performance and dropping out of school. CAAP seeks to raise awareness, promote the collection and use of data on attendance, support the development of early warning systems and promote the use of chronic absence data to help schools and community agencies (including health services, family resource centers, afterschool, and early childhood programs, etc.) coordinate their resources.