State SARB RecommendationThe State School Attendance Review Board (SARB) made the following recommendation to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016.
Recommendation of the State School Attendance Review Board
Background for the State School Attendance Review Board
California Education Code (EC) Section 48325(b) states that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) shall coordinate and administer a State School Attendance Review Board (SARB).
EC Section 48325(c) states that the State SARB shall make recommendations annually to the SSPI regarding the needs and services provided to high-risk youth, including youth with school attendance and behavior problems in the state public schools, and shall propose uniform guidelines or other means to meet the needs of these students.
EC Section 48325(a)(4) states that it is the intent of the Legislature that the State SARB reduce the number of dropouts in California’s public school system by promoting interagency cooperation among those agencies which have as their goals preventing students from dropping out, and increasing the holding power of the public schools. A key partner in this effort for the last four years has been the Office of the Attorney General.
Background for the Current Annual Recommendation
EC Section 48070.6 requires that the SSPI submit and post an Annual Report on Dropouts in California for the purpose of identifying and understanding trends in relevant attendance data, causal relations, early warning indicators, and potential points of intervention to address the high rate of dropouts in California. The annual report is to be usable by schools, school districts, policymakers, researchers, parents, and the public.
The SSPI has not completed the required annual report due to a lack of funding. However, the Office of the Attorney General (AG) has completed four annual reports on California’s chronic absenteeism and truancy crisis. School district leaders who have responded to the AG’s surveys say the analyses in the report have prompted them to monitor and improve their attendance policies and practices to address the high rate of dropouts in California.
The AG’s reports clearly have been useful to school districts, but are not a statutory requirement of that office. However, this report would meet the legislative intent of EC Section 48070.6 if the California Department of Education (CDE) were to provide it in the future.
New attendance data soon will be available in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System and will prove to be of critical importance to districts. This data has the potential to be a highly effective tool to help schools achieve greater equity in improving attendance among high-risk groups. In light of this opportunity, the first recommendation in the AG’s fourth annual report was that the CDE take the lead on future annual reports.
Nearly half of the district leaders surveyed noted that future annual reports by the CDE on statewide attendance trends would be helpful to them in reviewing their district- and school-level chronic absenteeism rates to develop appropriate Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) goals.
As noted in the AG’s fourth annual report, the CDE has the opportunity to play a critical role in observing statewide trends in chronic absenteeism and dropout rates, providing meaningful information to districts and counties, and in promoting effective practices in areas of the state in which high chronic absenteeism rates and dropout rates are concentrated.
An analysis of statewide trends in chronic absenteeism and dropout rates could inform school districts as they develop their LCAP goals to reduce chronic absenteeism and dropout rates.
State School Attendance Review Board Annual Recommendation
The State SARB agrees with the AG that the CDE, in consultation with the California Department of Justice, release an annual report on chronic absenteeism and dropout trends that would assist school districts in their analysis of their own chronic absenteeism and dropout rates.
Therefore, the State SARB is recommending that the SSPI support the proposal in the AG’s fourth annual report to continue analyzing statewide attendance trends which would be useful to districts in developing their own LCAP goals for reducing high chronic absenteeism and dropout rates in high-risk student populations. The report also could provide insights into which student populations require the most intervention services.
The annual report would be critical in assisting attendance supervisors achieve educational equity for student populations in California that typically have high chronic absenteeism and truancy rates, including foster youth, African American students, Native American students, and students with disabilities. EC Section 48240(b)(2) became effective on January 1, 2017, and expands the duties of attendance supervisors to identify and respond to grade level and pupil subgroup patterns of chronic absenteeism and truancy. An annual statewide report could provide insights into the trends which could be anticipated at the local level.
Funding for the report to address chronic absenteeism and high truancy rates could be incorporated into the State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act as the means for the SSPI to meet the legislative intent of EC Section 48070.6 for an annual report and to fulfill the SSPI’s legislative duty described in EC Section 48341:
“The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall prepare and disseminate to school districts and county superintendents of schools information regarding effective practices to improve pupil attendance.”