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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #17-24
March 30, 2017
Contact: Cynthia Butler
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces
2017 Model School Attendance Program Winners

SACRAMENTO—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.

All school programs chosen use a three-tiered approach to keep students in school. The first tier rewards improved attendance and creates an engaging school climate with low suspension rates. The second tier identifies attendance problems early and provides personalized outreach to students and parents. The third tier refers the most persistent attendance or behavior problems to a SARB and combines resources to solve the underlying attendance problems.

Poor attendance increases the likelihood that certain groups of students will drop out, including children living in poverty, African Americans, Native Americans, foster youth, and others. Chronic absenteeism and truancy also costs California school districts millions of dollars each year.

The California Department of Education is collecting chronic absenteeism rates for the first time during the 2016-2017 school year. The definition of chronic absenteeism is missing 10 percent or more of the total days enrolled for any reason. Data so far shows improvement in several districts, including:

  • Pittsburg Unified School District decreased its chronic absenteeism rate by 21 percent over the past three years.
  • Fontana Unified School District’s chronic absentee rate dropped from 10.5 percent to 9.2 percent, from the 2015–16 school year to 2016–17.
  • Jurupa Unified School District reported a truancy rate of 23.5 percent, below both the Riverside County rate of 34 percent and the state average rate of 31 percent.

Next year districts will be able to compare their chronic absenteeism rates for different student groups to state averages for the first time and incorporate findings into their Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).

The Model SARBs will serve as mentors to other school districts, and help them to develop their own strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism. AB 2815 by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, passed in 2016 and expanded the role of attendance supervisors with up-to-date strategies for reducing chronic absenteeism and truancy.

The Model SARB awards will be presented at the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance State Conference on April 19, 2017, in Tahoe City, CA. For more information, visit the California Department of Education School Attendance Review Boards Web page.

A list of the 27 Model SARBs and their chairpersons, who can act as mentors for other SARBs in the state, is listed below.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Thursday, March 30, 2017
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