Over the past four years, the California Attorney General’s Office have shown a commitment to tracking, analyzing, and offering guidance regarding the attendance crisis in elementary schools throughout the state. This year’s In School + On Track report proved that the situation is still severe, but there are signs of optimism, including an increased general awareness of the issue and commitment to diagnosing causes and implementing effective programs for eliminating chronic truancy and absenteeism.
In 2013, the Attorney General’s Office recognized Aeries Software’s position as the leading provider of Student Information Systems in California and sought out a partnership. The intent of this partnership was to facilitate the collection of anonymous, aggregated student data in order to analyze and gain insights into data not otherwise available through then-current state reporting. Aeries Software created an extract routine for Aeries school districts to opt into providing their data. Every year since, more and more Aeries school districts throughout California, of all sizes and in all locations, have participated in the data collection process.
Some distinctions made this year include:
- Chronic Absence is one of the strongest predictors of dropping out, even more than suspensions and test scores
- Chronic absence rates are disproportionately high for at-risk student populations
- Chronically absent students are concentrated in a small number of schools and school districts
o Over 50% of chronically absent students attend 20% of schools and 10% of school districts
o Over 25% of chronically absent students attend 7% of schools and 3% of school districts
- Suspensions disproportionately impact low-income students, students of color, foster youth, and students with disabilities
Despite these continued trends, there have emerged some promising indications:
- Current investments of only $1.00 for attendance-focused programs result in $1.57 (a 57% increase) in ADA funding
- Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) present a valuable opportunity for school districts to outline their improvement goals for student attendance
- Inclusion of data on chronic absenteeism in LCAPs has steadily increased
- 99% of surveyed school districts report that they have already implemented changes or plan to implement changes this school year to policies and programs to improve elementary school attendance
Once again, Aeries Software would like to applaud and thank the 179 school districts that participated in this valuable awareness-raising report. We would also like to encourage schools to continue to look for ways to make steps towards improving chronic absenteeism and truancy. Keep up the great work looking out for California’s students in keeping them in school and on track.