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09/22/2015

2015 California Attorney General Report on Truancy & Absenteeism

Tags: Attorney General, Truancy, Absenteeism, EveryKidCounts

As part of its ongoing commitment to furthering educational progress, Aeries once again played an integral role in the California Attorney General’s Report on Elementary School Truancy and Absenteeism Crisis.  Since 2013, our partnership with the Attorney General’s office has provided them with access to a unique dataset that provides detailed information about elementary school absenteeism in California.  This year, there was a notable increase in the number of school districts that utilized the extract within Aeries to provide their anonymous, aggregated student data to the Attorney General’s office.

The report, available here http://oag.ca.gov/truancy/2015, found that “When students are chronically absent from elementary school, they fall behind academically, they are less likely to graduate from high school, and they are more likely to be unemployed, on public assistance, or victims or perpetrators of crime.”  The report adds, “Missing school deprives students of important developmental and learning opportunities, reducing opportunities for later success in life, and increasing the risk of later involvement in the criminal justice system.”

Using the data provided by Aeries school districts, the report estimates that approximately 8% of elementary school students in California are chronically absent.   That means over 230,000 of our youngest students are already at risk of falling behind in school.  Additionally, the 2015 report confirmed high rates of truancy and chronic absence for low-income students and students of color.  A few other notable observations include:

  • ·         Over 75% of students with chronic attendance problems are low-income.
  • ·         Nearly 20% of African American and Native American elementary school students were chronically absent in the 2014-2015 school year, while only 8.0% of Whites and 3.7% of Asians were chronically absent.
  • ·         Chronic absence rates for Native American and African American students were almost 30% in kindergarten.

Moreover, the report underscored the importance of reducing the disproportionality in the high rates of suspension among students of color, particularly boys.  The data from Aeries districts indicate extreme disproportionality in suspension rates by both race and gender, as well as for other subgroups.  For example:

  • ·         The suspension rate for African American elementary school students is four times the rate of their White peers.
  • ·         African American boys are 5 times more likely to be suspended than all other boys.
  • ·         Native American, foster and special education students also have significantly higher suspension rates than the averages for all students.
  • ·         Boys had significantly higher suspension rates than girls in 2014-2015. African American boys in particular had the highest elementary school suspension rates, over four times that of African American girls in the 2014-2015 school year.

It is evident that the data confirms the need for greater attention to improving attendance for foster and homeless students, low-income students, and special education students.  Among these groups, K-5 chronic absence rates range from 9.0% to 13.1%.   It should also be noted that the students are not the only ones affected when they are absent from school.  According to the report, “The high cost of student absences in elementary school extend to lost revenues for school districts in California, revenues that could be used to improve the quality of education and outcomes for students who need it most. In 2014-15 alone, school districts statewide lost over $1 billion due to student absences.”

Lastly, the report highlights the need for school districts, parents, and educators to focus attention on student attendance, particularly in the early years.  The report sets out several guidelines and policy recommendations that will aid educators, administrators, officials, and parents to address this solvable issue.  Aeries remains committed to supporting the Office of the Attorney General in their efforts to battle the elementary school truancy and absenteeism crisis in California.   Aeries applauds the 92 districts that contributed their data and the work done by the Attorney General’s office and would like to thank them for continually recognizing Aeries® SIS as one of the leading student information system providers in California.

Full Report: http://oag.ca.gov/truancy/2015

Fact Sheet: http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/tr/truancy_factsheet_2015.pdf?

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