Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:
Working Together to Engage Students and Reduce Barriers to Attendance: A Call for Data-Informed Collaboration
Absenteeism has been serious during the pandemic and beyond and has taken a great toll on many students in California and across the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic has expanded and deepened existing educational inequities. Attendance Works estimates that chronic absence (missing 10 percent of school) has doubled to nearly 16 million students nationwide. Students with disabilities, from communities of color, and from economically disadvantaged families experience substantially higher chronic absence rates. The adverse impact of chronic absence is greatest for students and families who lack the resources to make up for the lost learning opportunities in the classroom.
Left unaddressed, disparities in the root causes and the impact of chronic absence widen gaps in academic achievement in literacy, math, and science, as well as high school graduation. Focusing resources on students who have struggled to regain consistent attendance and quality learning opportunities can help counter the negative effects of extended absences.
Unfortunately, emerging data from the first few months of the current school year shows that chronic absence rates remain high. This reflects the current high rates of illness as well as the continued challenges facing students and families as a result of multiple years of disrupted learning and the ongoing social and economic impact of the pandemic. These persistently high levels of chronic absence reveal that reengaging students, especially those severely impacted by the pandemic, will require ongoing attention and a long-term investment. Working together, we can promote student engagement and prevent unnecessary absences while ensuring students stay home as needed for public health reasons.
Please find in the attached important resources prepared by the California Department of Education and Attendance Works to support efforts to combat chronic absence. As noted in the attached document, we also encourage you to participate in our new Attendance Webinar Series launching in January.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Attachment: Working Together to Engage Students and Reduce Barriers to Attendance: A Call for Data-Informed Collaboration (PDF)