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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #12-28
March 26, 2012
Contact: Pam Slater
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces
2012 Model Attendance Improvement Programs

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 11 districts have been designated as models of attendance improvement and dropout prevention by the State School Attendance Review Board.

Torlakson praised the local SARBS for their work in reducing student absence, which costs school districts millions of dollars each year in lost income, and greatly increases the chance of students dropping out of school.

"There's a very basic fact that is often overlooked: Even the best teacher can't help students who don't make it to school," Torlakson said. "These review boards are proving that there are highly effective strategies for improving attendance and reducing the dropout rate."

Local review boards are created to provide a safety net for students with attendance problems. Students who are chronically absent are referred to local programs, which are tasked with identifying the problem and finding solutions.

Reducing absenteeism has become a major focus in the Torlakson administration, as new research points to chronic absence as a key indicator of a student’s academic future.

Recent studies have shown that chronic absenteeism that starts in kindergarten can cause students to have major reading problems by the third grade. Studies of the dropout rate also trace many of students’ academic struggles to early attendance problems.

Torlakson convened a Chronic Absence Policy Forum to address the problem last May, followed by a presentation to the State Board of Education in July. Torlakson and the California Department of Education staff are working to promote positive interventions to reduce chronic absenteeism.

Districts awarded by the Model SARB program are those that are taking positive approaches to help students and families improve attendance, rather than just seek to punish offenders.

"While we need to address problems with truancy, we cannot overlook students and families that may need support due to health or emotional problems, or who may simply not realize the importance of regular school attendance, even in kindergarten," Torlakson said.

The State SARB, authorized by the California Education Code, was established to provide policy coordination and personnel training to help local SARBS meet the needs of students with chronic attendance or behavior problems.

Members of the State SARB evaluated applications from local review boards from across the state for excellence in specific content areas, including SARB chairperson leadership, interventions prior to SARB referral, community collaboration, inventory of resources for high-risk youth, goals and objectives, program design and content, measuring and reporting outcomes, and interpersonal communication. The most important content area was the prevention efforts to improve attendance prior to SARB referral.

Districts recognized for their model attendance improvement and dropout reduction program retain their title through the 2012–13 school year to serve as mentors for other review boards seeking to achieve model status. This year’s model SARB awards will be presented April 19 at the Crowne Plaza Anaheim Resort in Garden Grove.

A list of the 11 districts and SARB chairpersons, who can act as mentors for other review boards in the state, is attached below.

For more information on the SARB process for attendance improvement and dropout reduction, visit the California Department of Education Web page at School Attendance Review Boards - Attendance Improvement.

Attachment

2012 Model SARB Programs

  1. Alhambra Unified School District, Patricia Mahony, SARB Chairperson, 626-943-3460; Superintendent: Donna Perez.
  2. Bakersfield Unified School District, Michael Skiba, SARB Chairperson, 661-631-4633; Superintendent/Designee: Randall G. Ranes.
  3. Bellflower and Paramount school districts, Terry Gendreau, SARB Chairperson, 626-943-3460; Superintendent/Designee: Lisa Azevedo.
  4. Chino Valley Unified School District, Colleen Alton, SARB Chairperson, Chino, 909-628-1201, ext. 7750; Superintendent/Designee: Wayne M. Joseph.
  5. El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Beach school districts, Kenneth Flood, SARB Chairperson, 310-937-1236; Superintendent/Designee: Dr. Steven Keller.
  6. Montebello Unified School District, Dr. Angel Gallardo, SARB Chairperson, 323-887-7900, ext. 7924; Superintendent/Designee: Michael Cobarrubias.
  7. Rialto Unified School District, Angela Brantley, SARB Chairperson, 909-820-7700, ext. 2352; Superintendent/Designee, Dr, James Wallace.
  8. San Bernardino Unified School District, Susann Hazen, SARB Chairperson, 909-880-6614; Superintendent/Designee: Ray Culberson.
  9. San Diego Unified School District, Crystal Cavanagh, SARB Chairperson, 619-725-7290; Superintendent/Designee: Bill Kowba.
  10. San Leandro Unified School District, Sheila Lawrence, SARB Chairperson, 510-667-6239; Superintendent/Designee: Debbie Wong.
  11. Twin Rivers Unified School District, Jane Claar and Tracey Wiltshire, SARB Chairpersons, 916-566-1615; Superintendent/Designee: Frank Porter.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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