State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) was among the 27 school attendance programs recognized as Model School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) for innovative and effective practices to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and chronic absenteeism.
“Students need to be in school to learn. The terrific work of the review boards is a testament to the collaboration between the school, parents, and community so that all students have the opportunity to succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said.
All school programs chosen use a three-tiered approach to keep students in school. The first tier rewards improved attendance and creates an engaging school climate with low suspension rates. The second tier identifies attendance problems early and provides personalized outreach to students and parents. The third tier refers the most persistent attendance or behavior problems to a SARB and combines resources to solve the underlying attendance problems.
In recognition of School Attendance Awareness Month last September, FUSD partnered with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, the City of Fremont, Fremont Police Department, Fremont Youth and Family Services and Tri-City Health Center to promote the importance of school attendance through the 'Every Day Counts' program. Banners and posters are posted at schools, city facilities and bus shelters throughout Fremont.
Poor attendance increases the likelihood that certain groups of students will drop out, including children living in poverty, African Americans, Native Americans, foster youth, and others. Chronic absenteeism and truancy also costs California school districts millions of dollars each year.
The California Department of Education is collecting chronic absenteeism rates for the first time during the 2016-2017 school year. The definition of chronic absenteeism is missing 10 percent or more of the total days enrolled for any reason. Next year, school districts will be able to compare their chronic absenteeism rates for different student groups to state averages for the first time and incorporate findings into their Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).
The Model SARBs will serve as mentors to other school districts, and help them to develop their own strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism. AB 2815 by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, passed in 2016 and expanded the role of attendance supervisors with up-to-date strategies for reducing chronic absenteeism and truancy.
The Model SARB awards will be presented at the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance State Conference on April 19, 2017, in Tahoe City, CA. For more information, visit the California Department of Education School Attendance Review Boards Web page.