September 4, 2019
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Encourages Districts to Continue Efforts to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism Rates Among State’s Most Vulnerable Student Groups
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, in recognition of September as Attendance Awareness Month, encourages local education agencies (LEA) throughout the state to continue efforts to combat chronic absenteeism.
“Students of color, foster youth, homeless youth, students with disabilities and students who are in rural areas have some of the highest chronic absenteeism rates in the state,” said Thurmond. “When these students - who are already facing academic challenges due to poverty, unstable home environment or inequitable resources - miss school that widens the achievement gap, especially for our early learners. Everyone who comes in contact with our students can contribute to their learning success. Parents, teachers, attendance supervisors, caregivers and community groups must work as a cohesive unit and implement positive strategies to ensure that students are in class each day.”
To provide additional support to combat chronic absenteeism, the California Department of Education (CDE) provides financial assistance, and mentoring opportunities for LEAs. The California Learning Communities for School Success grants is a program administered by the CDE and awards funds to eligible districts and county offices of education to help with excessive truancy, reduce chronic absenteeism rates, and keep children in school. The grants are awarded annually for three years.
LEAs that have been able to reduce their chronic absentee rates by using multi-tiered levels of support are recognized through the CDE Model School Attendance Review Board (SARB) Recognition Program. Those LEAs with model programs are asked to consider mentoring districts that are struggling with high absenteeism rates. A student is considered chronically absent when he or she misses 10 percent or more of the days he or she is enrolled.
The CDE began collecting chronic absenteeism rates in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) in 2017. That data is available in CDE’s DataQuest system and shows which schools and districts have had high rates of chronic absenteeism and which student groups are likely to require the most resources and interventions.
The data is also included in the California School Dashboard by student groups as one of the multiple measures of progress that parents, teachers, administrators, and community members can use to evaluate their schools and districts.
For information about sample policies to address high chronic absenteeism rates and the state SARB process, visit the School Attendance Improvement Strategies web page.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100