In Long Beach, chronic absence rates dropped from nearly 20 percent to 10 percent. In Berkeley, attendance rates increased from 92 percent to 94.6 percent at one high school. In Hayward, school leaders have enlisted partners from police officers to store owners to promote good attendance.
The school districts were among 11 California districts and counties recognized by the state for School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) that are taking a “progressive, data-driven approach to absenteeism.”
“In California, we have a group of exceptional SARBs using data-driven strategies to reduce their chronic absenteeism rates, improve overall attendance, and reduce dropout rates,” said state Superintendent of Instruction Tom Torlakson. “You can have the best facilities, the best teachers, and the best curriculum in the world, but none of that matters if students are not in school.”
In California, every district and county office of education must set up a SARB to identify and assist students with attendance problems. Schools refer students and families for for SARB hearings when they cannot resolve attendance or behavior problems. The model SARBs were recognized for doing a good job collaborating with the community, tracking chronic absence and improving attendance rates districtwide.
“We are making progress with a greater awareness of how chronic absenteeism in the early grades contributes to the state’s dropout problem, and we are excited about how this early identification and intervention will lead to lower dropout rates,” Torlakson said in a statement.
Long Beach officials credited outreach to families to help with barriers–such as health, transportation and housing–for reducing chronic absence. The local prosecutor’s office works with families of chronically truant students. Hayward and Berkeley describe emphasizing chronic absence, starting in the early grades. In the Corona-Norco Unified School District, administrators are using Attendance Works data tools to track chronic absence rates by school site, grades and other factors.
The full list of districts recognized for Model School Attendance Review Board programs include:
- Alhambra Unified School District
- Berkeley Unified School District.
- Colton Joint Unified School District
- Corona-Norco Unified School District
- El Dorado County Office of Education
- Escondido Union School District
- Grossmont Union High School District
- Hayward Unified School District
- Jurupa Unified School District
- Long Beach Unified School District
- San Juan Unified School District
The model SARBs are expected to serve as mentors to help other county and district programs improve their chronic absenteeism rates, attendance rates, and dropout rates. Awards will be presented April 24 at the State Conference of the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance in Napa.