State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has announced that chronic absenteeism data is available for the first time in California, providing a new understanding of absenteeism rates and enabling schools to determine which students are missing school and in danger of falling behind.
“This is a big step forward in efforts to provide useful information to schools,” Torlakson said. “This data helps us determine which schools, districts and student groups have the largest concentration of chronic absences, allowing educators and community members to focus attention and resources, and take actions needed to keep those students in class and back on the path to academic success.”
The data is available by visiting cde.ca.gov. The reports indicate chronic absenteeism rates of schools and school districts, and which student subgroups have the highest chronic absenteeism rates.
“The way the California Department of Education is presenting this data is cutting edge,” said Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, a national nonprofit organization working to reduce chronic absenteeism. “Making this information available through an interactive channel, allowing the public to access the information and analyze the data in different ways offers the opportunity to identify which schools, districts and populations are most affected and in need of prevention and early intervention.”
A student is considered a chronic absentee if they are absent 10 percent of the days they were enrolled in a school. Chronic absence is different from truancy, which counts only unexcused absences and indicates a violation of California’s compulsory attendance laws. Average daily attendance is the average number of students who attend school each day. The numbers are used to determine state funding for schools and school districts.
When California enacted the Local Control Funding Formula in 2013, it was one of the only states in the country to build an indicator around chronic absence. School districts must now track and address chronic absence as part of their Local Control Accountability Plan – a tool to set goals, plan actions and leverage resources to improve student success.
Torlakson has focused on reducing the state’s chronic absenteeism rates, especially the rates for racial/ethnic groups and foster youth – groups with rates significantly above the state average. Torlakson also convenes the State Attendance Review Board, which recommends how to identify and respond to patterns of chronic absenteeism or truancy.
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