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Introduction

When a seven-year-old child is chronically absent 1 from school, it is a clear indication of broader challenges in that child’s life. It is our obligation to answer this call for help and intervene, so that all children can meet their full potential.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has made eliminating elementary school truancy a top priority of the California Department of Justice, in order to keep children in school and out of the criminal justice system. Through this work, we have made great progress in the past several years. State policymakers, school districts, county offices of education, and advocates across California are raising awareness about the importance of school attendance for students’ academic achievement and well-being, and are building infrastructure to intervene and reduce student absences. Yet, California continues to face an attendance crisis, one that disproportionately affects low-income, special education, and highly mobile students. Excessive absenteeism in elementary school for any reason—excused, unexcused, or due to suspensions—reduces students’ opportunities to learn and increases their risk of falling behind academically, dropping out of school, and later involvement in the criminal justice system.

Improving school attendance is a centerpiece of Attorney General Harris’ public service. In 2006, as District Attorney in San Francisco, she investigated the factors contributing to the city’s violent crime rate and found that 94% of San Francisco’s homicide victims under age 25 were high school dropouts. Through a partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District, she worked to inform parents of the importance of school attendance and their legal obligation to ensure their children attend school. Attorney General Harris also helped connect parents with comprehensive services to address barriers to attendance. The initiative resulted in a 23% reduction in truancy among elementary students over a two-year period.

Building on the work she began in San Francisco, since 2013 Attorney General Harris has released an annual report on elementary school truancy and chronic absence in California. This is the fourth edition of the report, In School + On Track. Drawing from four years of longitudinal data—a sample of almost half a million K-5 students—the report includes the most comprehensive analysis to-date on the high rates of absenteeism among California’s elementary school students.

Data collected from our annual survey and from interviews with district and county leaders over the past four years illustrate leaders' strong and growing commitment to improve student attendance and address chronic absence. This report highlights the work of several districts, counties, and statewide collaboratives that have successfully implemented policies and practices to reduce student absences. The successes of these districts and counties demonstrate that we can solve this crisis together. We can solve it through better data tracking and monitoring systems, and through collaborative efforts that communicate the importance of school attendance to parents and that provide wrap-around support to students and families in need.

Update on the Attendance Crisis

Elementary school chronic absence rates remain perilously high in California.

Elementary school chronic absence rates remain perilously high in California

An estimated 210,000 K-5 students in California missed 10% of the school year in 2015-2016. These chronically absent students make up 7% of elementary students in the state. 2 Our analysis of Aeries data indicates that the chronic absence rate for elementary students has remained relatively stable over the last few years.

In addition, more than a quarter of all elementary school students were truant3 in the 2014-2015 school year. Our analysis of data from the California Department of Education (CDE) indicates a slight increase in the truancy rate from 23.2% in the previous year.

With the known impact of early attendance on student achievement, later school attendance, and high school completion,4 the high absence rates for K-5 students in California are a reminder to remain vigilant and focused on ensuring that no absence or child goes overlooked.

Case Studies

Throughout this report, we highlight the work of several districts, counties, and other organizations that have implemented successful initiatives to improve student attendance and reduce student discipline policies that remove students from the classroom. Click on each case study for more information.

Attendance rates, which average the attendance for all students, can mask serious attendance problems for individual students or groups of students

Vital Progress in the Collection of Chronic Absence Data in California

Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, all local education agencies in California will submit data to the California Department of Education on excused and unexcused absences, as well as out-of-school suspensions as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Chronic absence rates will also become part of the state’s new accountability system. The collection of chronic absence data represents a major advancement in the state’s system for tracking absences.

Since the state of California does not currently and has not historically collected data on student absences, Attorney General Harris has sought to fill the gap. Through a partnership with Eagle Software and the participation of their Aeries client districts, we have access to student-level data for almost half a million K-5 students from nearly 200 California school districts. The data are longitudinal, covering the last four years. This allows us—for the first time—to analyze trends in student absences and attendance over time, including the impact of these attendance patterns on attendance and academic achievement in later grades. The graphs and statistics below present the findings of our analysis of these sample data.

Student absence rates remain stable over time

Chronic absence and truancy rates have increased slightly over time, likely due to better reporting

  • The chronic absence rate rose from 6% in 2012-2013 to 7% in 2015-2016
  • The severe chronic absence5 rate changed slightly from .6% in 2012-2013 to 1% in 2015-2016
  • In our sample, the truancy rate rose from 14% in 2012-2013 to 27% in 2015-2016
  • The chronic truancy rate rose from .4%6 in 2012-2013 to 1.5% in 2015-2016

The chronic absence rate is 7% in 2015-2016

  • The chronic absence rate does not vary by gender but does vary by race
  • The chronic absence rate among African American K-5 students in the 2015-2016 school year is 14%, 2X the rate for all students
  • Special education students have a chronic absence rate of 12%
  • The students with the highest chronic absence rate are African American homeless students at a staggering 22%7
  • 77% of all chronically absent students are low-income

The severe chronic absence rate is 1% and the chronic truancy rate is 2%

  • The severe chronic absence rate (3%) and the chronic truancy rate (6%) for African American students is 3X that of all students
  • For special education students the chronic truancy rate is 3% and the severe chronic truancy rate is 2%

California’s youngest and most vulnerable students miss critical learning time

To address high rates of absenteeism in kindergarten and first grade, the Lawndale Elementary School District created a Kinder SARB to improve attendance in the earliest grades. Read More...

More than 1 in 10 kindergarten students in our sample were chronically absent in 2015-2016. Chronically absent kindergarteners miss valuable instructional time critical to their academic success and social development.

Preschool chronic absence rates are disproportionately high for at-risk student populations

High chronic absence rates begin as early as preschool for some students. The chronic absence rate for our sample of over 36,000 pre-k students is 8% in 2015-2016, about 1 percentage point greater than K-5 students in our sample.8 The severe chronic absence rate for pre-k students is 1.8%, compared to just 1% for K-5 students. African American and Native American pre-k students have chronic absence rates over 10%, as do low-income students and English learners in 2015-2016. Chronic absence rates for pre-k homeless students and special education students are the highest of any group in our sample at 15% in the same year.9

Chronically absent students are concentrated in a small number of schools and school districts

According to our sample, chronically absent students are concentrated in a small number of schools and school districts in California, corroborating research conducted by Attendance Works.10

50% of Chronically Absent Students in our Sample Attend:

25% of Chronically Absent Students in our Sample Attend:

All of the districts in our sample with chronic absence rates over 20% are small districts serving approximately 12,000 students collectively.

86% of districts in our sample with chronic absence rates over 20% serve a student population where more than 75% of students are low-income.

Schools and school districts with high concentrations of chronically absent students likely require additional support from the state and other agencies to ensure students and families receive the resources they need to reduce student absences.

The truancy rate for elementary students in California increased from 23.2% in 2013-2014 to 25.2% in 2014-2015 11

In addition to our sample of Aeries data, we used publicly available data from the California Department of Education to examine reported truancy rates for the entire state by county. The map and graph below use these data.

Statewide
Truancy Rate
School Attendance & Academic Achievement

Three-quarters of all chronically absent students in kindergarten and first grade did not meet the California state standards in math and English language arts in 2014-2015.

Early attendance impacts academic achievement

From our analysis of Aeries sample data, three-quarters of all students who were chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade did not meet the California state standards in third grade for math and English language arts (ELA), with their scores falling into the categories of “not met” or “nearly met.” This represents a fifteen-percentage point difference compared to students who were not chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade, among which 60% did not meet state standards.

Student attendance is a predictor of academic achievement, even when controlling for other factors

(Hover over students to see predicted outcomes)

Attendance Rate

Standardized Test Scores
Total Range of Possible Scores 2131-2663
Exceeded 2533-2663
Met 2473-2532
Nearly Met 2416-2472
Not Met 2131-2415

As a recipient of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading award in 2012, The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has made improving student attendance and achievement a top priority. Read More...

Suspensions Exacerbate the Attendance Crisis

14,500+ suspensions resulted in nearly 23,000 days of missed instruction in our sample of half a million K-5 students in California.

Suspensions exacerbate the attendance crisis

  • 14,500+ suspensions resulted in nearly 23,000 days of missed instruction in our sample of half a million K-5 students in California
  • 5th graders are suspended at a rate 3X that of kindergarteners
  • 55% of students with more than one suspension are also chronically absent
  • Applying the results of our analysis statewide, we estimate over 9,700 kindergarten and first grade students in California were suspended in 2015-2016

Suspensions disproportionately impact low-income students, foster students, and students with disabilities

  • Low-income students account for 82% of all suspensions
  • 30% of all suspensions involve students receiving special education services
  • Foster children are suspended at a rate 2.5X times that of all students
  • 94% of districts surveyed track out-of-school suspensions, but only 62% track suspensions by sub-group. A third of all districts do not track suspensions by grade

Suspensions disproportionately impact boys and students of color

  • Boys (3%) are suspended at 3X the rate of girls (1%)

The Placer County Office of Education reduced the number of school days students miss due to suspensions and expulsions through the creation of a multi-tier system of support for students. Read More...

  • African American students represent 22% of all suspensions and 28% of students suspended for more than three days, while only representing 5% of the overall K-5 student population

Suspensions for children in the early grades only exacerbate the attendance crisis. Approaches to student discipline, especially for younger students, should focus more on positive behavior change rather than punitive measures.

Student Mobility & Foster Youth

Highly mobile students are more likely to be chronically absent than their non-mobile peers.

Highly mobile students are more likely to be chronically absent than their non-mobile peers

In the 2015-2016 school year, the chronic absence rate for foster students in our sample was almost 9% - about 2 percentage points greater than the rate for non-foster students in our sample. These same foster students had chronic absence rates of 14% in 2013-2014 and 12% in 2012-2013, double the rates of non-foster students in the same years. In addition, our analysis indicates that foster students were more likely to be suspended than their non-foster peers.

A 2014 report from the University of Chicago finds that 1 in 3 foster students miss at least a month of school at some point due to changes in their home placement alone.12 Moreover, three quarters of all foster youth read below grade level in third grade and by third grade 83% have had to repeat a grade.13

Graphic courtesy of Children Now

Chronic absence rates for homeless students are even higher. In the 2015-2016 school year, homeless students in our sample had a chronic absence rate of almost 11%, about 4 percentage points greater than non-homeless students in our sample. The severe chronic absence rate for homeless students was twice the rate for all other students.

Despite persistent attendance problems among highly mobile students, including homeless and foster youth, responses to our 2016 survey indicate that only 52% of school districts have a system in place to alert a new school about a student's attendance history when a student transfers into their district from another district in California. Also, according to our survey of district leaders, in 2015-2016 over a quarter of school districts did not have a system in place to share attendance information for foster youth with relevant social service agencies. These responses indicate the need to build better systems to ensure students with poor attendance receive the assistance they need right away when they transfer to a new school.

Foster Ed, a national non-profit focused on improving outcomes for foster youth, cultivates collaboration between agencies to improve attendance and meet the unique needs of foster students. Read More...

Cost of Absenteeism

Each year districts leave over a billion dollars in possible education funding on the table due to student absences.

Over the past six years, school districts in California have lost an estimated $7.3 billion in funding due to student absences

An estimated $1.52 billion dollars was left unclaimed by school districts in the 2015-2016 school year alone. 14

Note: Los Angeles County is not shown in this graph, as it is an extreme outlier. In 2015-2016, Los Angeles County had 1,319,616 students enrolled, an attendance rate of 97%, and an estimated loss in funding due to student absences of $297.1 million.

Districts report substantial returns on even modest investments to improve attendance

Responses from districts who reported an investment in attendance programs on our 2016 survey indicate an average school district expenditure of $71,831 in programs to improve attendance yields an average return of $112,936 in increased ADA funding. 15

Examples of districts that have experienced substantial returns on their investments in improving attendance

  • In 2016 Parlier Unified School District spent $22K and saw a return of $260K
  • In 2016 Lawndale Elementary School District spent between $50-100K and saw a return of >$500K. Furthermore, with a 1% increase in ADA, they can increase their budget by $600K
Leveraging LCFF & LCAPs for Improvement

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 Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs) has steadily increased

Our analysis of over 200 LCAPs indicates an additional 30% of districts now report their chronic absence data in their LCAP compared to three years ago. However, reporting of attendance goals and disaggregation of goals by subgroup has stagnated in the last year.

Elements of an Effective LCAP 2014 (80 LCAPs) 2015 (200 LCAPs) 2016 (214 LCAPs)
Includes chronic absence data 16 18% 33.9% 47.2%
States chronic absence goals 52% 88.5% 81.3%
Includes specific chronic absence goals 30% 74.3% 74.8%
Lists chronic absence goals by subgroup 5% 15.9% 10.5%

A new element included in the 2016 LCAP review was an analysis of the number of districts that reported whether they met their goals for addressing chronic absence. Of the 214 LCAPs, only 90 districts reported whether they met, exceeded, or failed to meet their goals in the Annual Update section of their LCAP.

California is making progress in efforts to improve attendance

California school districts have demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement.

California school districts have demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement in their efforts to improve elementary school attendance over the past several years

  • 99% of surveyed school districts report that they have already implemented changes or plan to implement changes for the 2016-2017 school year to policies and programs to improve elementary school attendance
  • 80% of school districts surveyed cite an increased awareness of attendance issues in their district as a reason for changes in their attendance programs, an increase of 20% from 2015
  • Nearly 70% of school districts attributed their changing practices, in part, to their Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), an increase of 10% from 2015

According to Dr. Erin M. Simon, Director of Student Support Services for the Long Beach Unified School District, "To reduce chronic absence, districts must analyze their data, identify the underlying causes, and allocate resources to address those causes." As part of this effort, Long Beach Unified School District launched the “All In” campaign. Simon describes the “All In" campaign as "a long-term, city-wide approach to strongly encourage students to attend school every second of every period, everyday. “All In” is centered on the understanding that increasing student attendance is crucial to improving academic achievement. As a result of "All In", there is a heightened awareness of the importance of regular school attendance and families feel more connected to their campuses." Read More...

There are many pieces to the puzzle of overall improvement

A Timeline of Progress

In our annual survey, we ask school district leaders to report changes to their data collection systems or attendance programs that they made in the current year or that they plan to make for the year ahead. Their responses each year indicate substantial progress over the years.

In the 2012-2013 school year, just over half of school districts surveyed said that they tracked student attendance data longitudinally (over time). In this year’s survey, 85% of districts reported that they track student attendance longitudinally, allowing them to understand individual student attendance patterns, craft targeted interventions, and evaluate the success of those interventions. Districts also report more frequent communication with schools about truancy and chronic absence and more meaningful outreach to parents when students are identified as chronically absent.

The fact that school districts report year-over-year that they are making new investments to improve attendance, making changes to their systems for monitoring attendance, improving communication with parents, and refining their discipline policies, is a clear indication of their continued commitment to improving attendance and reducing chronic absence.

California school districts, county offices of education, and partner organizations continue to innovate to improve student attendance.

Garden Grove Unified School District exemplifies why regular communication, developing personal relationships with students and their families, and showing that you care, can make a substantial difference in a student’s attendance and in their long-term academic success. Read More...

The Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) partnered with UC Davis to form the Chronic Absence Learning Collaborative. As a result of the partnership, SCUSD improved their attendance policies and practices, accessed relevant research, built internal capacity, and reduced chronic absence rates at the schools involved in the Learning Collaborative. Read More...

The Val Verde Unified School District has implemented several key initiatives to successfully reduce their chronic absence rates including their innovative use of Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSA) as dedicated attendance liaisons. Read More...

The California Department of Education established the California Attendance Peer Learning Network in 2015 as a pilot project. Participants from 13 school districts learned to identify relevant trends in chronic absence data and use the data to target specific student groups and schools that needed greater assistance to overcome barriers to attendance. Read More...

Recommendations

UC Davis researcher Nancy Erbstein refers to chronic absenteeism as an issue with a “silent constituency,” lacking vocal and wide-ranging stakeholders to advocate for continued attention and investments to improve student attendance. Yet, the research is clear. When students miss school they are more likely to fall behind and eventually, to drop out. 17 When students drop out, they are more likely to become involved with the criminal justice system. Therefore, we must all continue to champion the need for better systems to track, monitor, and respond to chronically absent students. This effort requires the continued involvement of the Attorney General’s Office, the California Department of Education, the California State Board of Education, the U.S. Department of Education, schools, school districts, and agencies and advocates across the country.

The recommendations in this section present ways to collectively expand and strengthen efforts to address California’s attendance crisis and the elementary school students who need our help to ensure they attend school every day.

 

Institutionalize annual report

This report is the fourth of its kind from the Attorney General’s Office. Year after year, many of the district leaders who responded to our surveys indicate that the Attorney General’s report prompted them to make changes to their attendance policies and practices to ensure students do not fall through the cracks.

We need public reporting on truancy and chronic absence rates in California. The analysis of student absenteeism in In School + On Track is merely a stop-gap. We must institutionalize this annual reporting requirement at the statewide level. The California Department of Education, in consultation with the California Department of Justice, should release an annual report on chronic absence and connect this work to district Local Control and Accountability Plans. It is not enough for school districts to collect attendance and absence data and analyze it at the local level. The state plays a critical role in observing statewide trends, providing a meaningful feedback loop to districts and counties, and promulgating effective practices.

In our survey of district leaders, nearly half of respondents reported that it would help their district improve its efforts to track, monitor, and address chronic truancy and absenteeism if they received reports from the California Department of Education on district- and school-level chronic absenteeism rates.

Improve data tracking and monitoring at the local- and state-level

California needs a statewide accountability system that will monitor and prioritize improving elementary student attendance (chronic absence and suspensions). The state can help to make chronic absence data more accessible. All stakeholders should be able to easily access reports on chronic absence online—by district, by grade and by key student subgroups.

In addition, the state and local school districts must work together to ensure timely access to attendance and absence data when a student transfers from one school or district to another. This is particularly important for districts in their work to support highly mobile students. Over 60% of districts reported in our survey that access to attendance histories for new students entering their district would improve their district’s efforts to track, monitor, and address chronic truancy and absenteeism. With the collection of individual-level absence and attendance data for all students in California, CALPADS can serve as an important tool for districts when students with a history of poor attendance transfer into their district. District and school leaders should be able to easily access the attendance history for students transferring into their district.

CALPADS only collects information annually and therefore, cannot be used as a real-time early warning system by districts to track student absences as needed throughout the school year. Therefore, districts need data systems with the capacity to track chronic absence over time and in real-time so that their student information systems (SISs) can be used as an effective early warning system. Districts’ SISs should allow for live tracking, monitoring and intervention that is rooted in data and evidence. In addition, chronic absence data should be easy for teachers, school-site administrators and district leaders to access and analyze.

School districts should encourage their Student Information System (SIS) providers to include a chronic absence dashboard, if they do not already do so. Data dashboards display information in a manner that is easily accessible to a range of users. A new brief from Attendance Works provides information to help district leaders in California use their Student Information Systems (SIS) to improve the collection and use of chronic absence data. 18 One of the key recommendations included in the Attendance Works’ brief is for districts to advocate for SIS providers to build chronic absence reports into their regularly offered services.

Provide support to improve data collection and monitoring

The 2016-2017 school year is the first year districts are required to collect absence data and submit these data to the state, through CALPADS. Some districts need greater support to enhance their capacity to collect data on student absences—as required for the 2016-2017 school year—in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The California Department of Education, the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE), and county offices of education should strategize how to provide support to districts around the collection and use of attendance and absence data. These entities could strengthen district capacity to have a data-centric approach to goal-setting and decision-making and to encourage collaboration across schools and districts.

For example, similar to the strategies used by the CORE Districts, counties could provide opportunities for districts to compare chronic absence rates across schools, to identify where schools with similar demographics have higher attendance rates. These “school-pairings” could be used to facilitate school-to-school collaboration to share effective practices and improve attendance.

Support for districts should also include strategies to ensure the quality and completeness of data collected. Districts should begin to look where attendance data is consistently tracked and where it is missing. For example, districts may want to track how frequently teachers submit attendance information and how frequently this information is incomplete.

Focus on early attendance

As a system, we must address high rates of absenteeism in the earliest grades. Research consistently shows that chronic absence rates are at their highest in kindergarten and first grade. 19 Accordingly, 83% of students chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are unable to read on-level by third grade. 20 Students who cannot read on-level by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. 21 This cumulative impact creates a vicious cycle for children, highlighting the importance of early attendance.

Districts must focus on the first entry point into school as a way to establish a culture of positive attendance among families. In California, this means we should be looking at attendance in preschool and in Transitional Kindergarten (TK). This requires new efforts to build the infrastructure to track and monitor preschool attendance in publicly funded programs. Nationally, Head Start has just issued performance standards that require Head Start programs to monitor and address when children are missing 10% or more of preschool. California should follow this example and institute similar attendance tracking guidelines for state funded preschool programs.

Culturally, schools – not just parents – need to shift their focus from attendance as a mere legal compliance issue to a core student achievement issue (particularly in kindergarten when school is not compulsory until age six). Districts such as Lawndale Elementary School District and the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District are using innovative strategies such as a Kinder School Attendance Review Board (Lawndale’s Kinder SARB) and a summer camp for incoming TK students (Tahoe Truckee’s TK summer camp) to ensure families create advantageous attendance patterns early on.

Improve the LCAP template to standardize data reporting and goal setting for chronic absence by subgroup

Our analysis of LCAPs indicates the need for greater support for districts to develop goals and data which are consistently broken down by subgroup; to ensure robust metrics are used to measure attendance; and to make sure districts clearly and specifically report whether or not they have been able to meet their goals for reducing chronic absence. Although more than 80% of the district LCAPs we analyzed provide general goals for improving chronic absence, only 1 in 10 LCAPs specify goals by subgroup (e.g., by race, low-income, foster youth or English learners). Moreover, less than half of LCAPs analyzed actually provide chronic absence data, and only 8% provide chronic absence data broken down by subgroup. This is a missed opportunity to use the LCAP to focus on reducing chronic absence rates among those students with the highest rates of absenteeism. Without data on subgroups, it is difficult to set meaningful goals or to measure progress toward those goals. The LCFF and LCAP are intended to reduce disparities among vulnerable student populations and to promote equity. Adjustments to the LCAP template can help advance these LCFF goals.

In addition, 12% of LCAPs analyzed still report their attendance rates rather than chronic absenteeism. The evidence is overwhelming that looking at average attendance rates across schools or the school district can mask serious attendance problems for individual students. Finally, only 90 of 214 LCAPs reported whether they failed to meet, met, or exceeded their goals for reducing chronic absence rates in the Annual Update section of their LCAP. The LCAP template should be reconfigured to make it easy for districts to report on progress toward meeting their goals.

The Attorney General’s Office created a sample LCAP as a resource for school districts: https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/tr/draft-sample-lcap.pdf

Reduce student absences due to suspensions by expanding programs that focus on behavioral support rather than punitive approaches to student discipline

Research on the negative impact of school absences on students’ long-term academic success indicates the need to replace suspensions for minor offenses with behavioral support for students, especially in the early grades. 22 In our sample alone, elementary school students missed over 20,000 days of school in 2015-2016 due to suspensions. Moreover, we estimate over 9,700 kindergarten and first grade students in California were suspended in 2015-2016.

California has taken important steps to reduce the number of days students miss due to suspensions and to reduce the disproportionate number of boys and students of color, who miss school due to suspensions. For example, the enactment of Assembly Bill 420, effective January 1, 2015, prohibits the suspension of students in kindergarten through grade 3 from school for behavior considered to be willfully defiant and disruptive and banned the expulsion of students of any grade solely for such behavior. This law represents a significant change to school rules and procedures on school discipline. Forty-three percent of the more than 600,000 California suspensions were historically issued for this one category; more than 5,000 K–3 students received suspensions for this offense each year. In addition, approximately 500 students statewide were expelled from school districts for this reason only (without citing any of the 23 other offenses for which school districts can expel students).

To further reduce the number of school days students miss due to suspensions, districts can increase their use of their School Attendance Review Board to provide greater support to students with behavioral issues. SARBs, as authorized in EC Section 48320, are intended to provide intensive guidance and support to meet the special needs of students with school attendance problems or school behavior problems. The State SARB has encouraged local districts and county offices of education to move from a focus solely on truancy to a more inclusive and necessary focus on chronic absenteeism. The State SARB has also actively highlighted that, while the term SARB refers only to the focus on attendance, the actual legislative intent of SARBs also includes support for students with persistent behavior problems, even if these students attend school regularly.

The Placer County Office of Education has taken a positive approach to building school culture and behavioral norms, both locally and statewide, by providing training in the implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). The Placer County Office of Education has seen a 52% reduction in the suspension rate in participating districts. These programs should be replicated to help reduce student absences due to suspensions and to improve school culture. Attorney General Harris co-sponsored legislation during the 2015-2016 legislative session to establish grant programs funded through the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund; local education agencies should utilize this funding to implement non-punitive programs, practices, and training to help keep kids in school.

Change California law to require that a child’s parent or guardian is notified when the child is excessively absent for any reason

Under California law, school districts must notify a child’s parent or guardian after the student has three combined unexcused absences or tardies during the school year (first notification of truancy) and after the child’s fifth unexcused absence (third notification of truancy). 23 After the third notification of truancy, the child may also be referred to a SARB. There are currently no reporting requirements around chronic absence. Yet, research indicates that excessive absences of any kind—excused or unexcused—impact student achievement. California must modernize its laws to ensure communication with parents when their child is excessively absent for any reason and to encourage school districts to use their School Attendance Review Teams (SARTs) and SARB as tools to address chronic absence as well as truancy. Some districts, such as Val Verde Unified School District, have modified their Notice of Truancy letters to also communicate with parents about excessive absenteeism.

Communication with parents and guardians must be reframed to include more positive language and clear information on how much school the child is missing

Recognizing the central role that parents play in improving school attendance, in 2015 the Office of Attorney General Kamala D. Harris—in partnership with the Ad Council, and the California Endowment—released a toolkit to provide information on the best way to talk to parents about absences in elementary school. Among other findings, the toolkit makes the following research-based suggestions with regard to communication with parents/guardians: parents should feel supported, rather than guilty and in trouble when their child is absent; include simple, easy-to-understand language in all communication; frame the discussion around “absences” rather than “attendance”; and give parents specific reasons why absences matter. The toolkit is available here: https://oag.ca.gov/truancy/toolkit.

This case study includes research-based suggestions for schools and districts to strengthen their communication with parents/guardians about student absences. Read More...

A randomized experiment by Todd Rogers, Harvard University, and Avi Feller, University of California, Berkeley,24 involving nearly 30,000 at-risk students in a large and diverse urban district, demonstrated two factors that can reduce absenteeism. First, they found that regular reminders about the importance of attendance delivered to parents throughout the school year reduced student absenteeism. Second, dispelling parents’ common misconceptions about their student’s absences also reduces absenteeism. According to Rogers and Feller, parents tend to underestimate their own child’s absences by a factor of two and are unaware of their child’s absences in relation to the absences of their classmates. Through personalized messages and regular updates on students’ total absences, Rogers and Feller were able to correct these misconceptions and increase attendance.

Districts such as Lawndale Elementary have worked with teachers and staff across the system to ensure that the school focuses on the importance of school attendance, rather than punitive measures for non-attendance, in all communication with parents.

Advocate for a common national definition for chronic absence

The U.S. Department of Education defines chronic absence as missing 15 or more days of school in a single school year for any reason. California defines chronic absence as missing 10% or more of the school year. 25 If the student attends a full year of school, this means missing 18 days of school. However, this is actually a live measure of the percentage of absences up to the current day in the school year, not just an annual metric. In other words, if a student has been absent for 5 of the first 50 days she or he has been enrolled during the school year, the student would be considered chronically absent. For comparability purposes, the federal government and the states should work together to establish a national definition for chronic absence.

California should use chronic absent data to take a tiered approach to targeting resources and building capacity to improve student attendance

Identifying which students are chronically absent is merely the first step in our support for improving attendance. Attendance Works has developed a multi-tiered approach to track absence data and use these data as a guide for the provision of support for students. According to Attendance Works, Tier One strategies, those intended for all students, might include efforts to improve school climate and to enhance communication with parents about the importance of school attendance for long-term academic success. Tier Two strategies, intended for students missing 10-20% of the school year, might include home visits and personalized supports to students and their families to address barriers to attendance. Tier Three strategies, for students who are severely chronically absent (missing more than 20% of the school year), likely require cross-agency support for those students and families facing the most severe barriers to attendance such as homelessness, extreme poverty, severe mental health issues, or addiction.

According to a new brief from Attendance Works,26 “State-level data on chronic absence, poverty levels and academic achievement can be used to identify which districts require greater levels of assistance…State data can also be used to identify districts facing similar challenges, such as sparsely populated rural districts with high rates of chronic absence, which could benefit from participating in a community of practice to share lessons learned among peers or a more collective or regional approach to technical assistance.” Moreover, state-level chronic absence data can be used to identify areas where state and county agencies can work together, utilizing data to gain insights into likely causes of poor attendance and to build new strategies for interagency solutions to the most severe chronic absence problems.

Accordingly, our analysis corroborates other research that indicates high numbers of chronically absent students are concentrated in a small number of schools and school districts. The state and county offices of education can use chronic absence data to identify those areas where high concentrations of chronically absent students are located in order to provide targeted support in these areas.

Appendix

Appendix: Glossary and Research Methodology.

Appendix A: Glossary

Attendance Officers (Attendance Clerks): The board of education of each school district or county is required to appoint a supervisor of attendance, as well as an assistant supervisor of attendance, as necessary to supervise the attendance of students in that district or county. California Education Code section 48240 provides that the duties of the attendance officers will include duties related to compulsory full-time education, truancy, work-permits, compulsory continuing education, and opportunity schools, classes, and programs.

The Advertising Council (Ad Council): The Ad Council is a non-profit organization that produces, distributes, and promotes public service announcements on a number of significant public issues.

Average Daily Attendance (ADA): ADA is the number of days a student attends school, divided by the total number of days of instruction. For example, if a student attends school every day of the school year their ADA would be 1. If a student attends only half of the school days in a school year, their ADA would be 0.5. In California, ADA has been used to determine a school district’s general purpose funding. Under LCFF, ADA is used similarly to determine a district’s base grant funding.

Bureau of Children’s Justice (BCJ): Formed in 2015 as a new department within the California Department of Justice, the BCJ’s mission is to protect the rights of children and focus the attention and resources of law enforcement and policymakers on the importance of safeguarding every child so that they can meet their full potential.

CALPADS: California’s student-level information system that allows the state to track students and their academic achievement over time. CALPADS collects student-level records on enrollment, standardized assessment performance, and other demographic information required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

California Department of Education (CDE): The CDE is a department within the State government, created by statute, which oversees California’s education system. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction leads the CDE.

California State Board of Education (SBE): The SBE is the K-12 policy-determining body for the State of California. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction, who heads the CDE, also serves as SBE’s executive officer and secretary. The SBE has 11 members, all of whom are appointed by the Governor and serve four-year, staggered terms, with the exception of the student member, who serves a one-year term. The SBE sets K-12 education policy in the areas of standards, curriculum, instructional materials, assessment, and accountability. The SBE also adopts regulations (Title 5) to implement a wide variety of programs created by the Legislature, such as charter schools and special education. In addition, the SBE has the authority to grant local education agency requests for waivers of certain provisions of the state Education Code.

Chronic Absence: Chronic absence is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year for any reason, excused or unexcused. In California, 10% of the school year equals about 18 days of missed school, or two days a month based upon the typical 180-day school year. Chronic absence is distinct from truancy because truancy concerns only unexcused absences and tardiness. California Education Code Ed § 60901(c)(1).

Chronic Truant: A student is deemed a “chronic truant” if they are absent from school without a valid excuse for 10% or more of the school year, provided that the appropriate school district officer or employee has complied with Sections 48260, 48260.5, 48261, 48262, 48263, and 48291 of the education code.

County Office of Education (COE): All 58 counties in California have a county office of education. Most COEs oversee multiple school districts. The quality COE is responsible for the oversight of district finances and many provide certain centralized services to school districts. COEs also run special schools and education programs.

DataQuest: The State of California’s online, public, searchable database maintained by the California Department of Education which contains data collected about California schools and districts. (http://data1.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/).

Habitual Truant: After the third report of truancy, a student may be deemed a “habitual truant” if the school and/or district has properly reported the first and second truancy as required under Education Code sections 48260 and 48261 and made a conscientious effort to communicate with the parent at least once.

Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP): Each district and county is required under the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to create their own LCAP, which identifies unique goals and actions that address the state’s eight priorities. LCAPs must also outline how districts and counties will allocate supplemental and concentration funding they receive to support their English learner, low-income, and foster youth populations. All districts and counties were required to adopt their inaugural LCAPs by July 1, 2014. Districts and counties must update their LCAPs annually.

Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF): LCFF is the formula for funding California schools adopted by the Governor and Legislature in 2013. LCFF gives every school district a base funding grant that is calculated according to ADA. Additional funds are allocated to districts based on the number of English learners, low-income, and foster youth they enroll. Schools where more than 55 percent of the students are English learners, low-income, and/or foster youth qualify for additional “concentration” funds. The new funding formula gives school district more control over how the funds are spent.

School Attendance Review Board (SARB): SARBs are used by many districts and counties to collaboratively address attendance issues. SARBs can be formed at the school district or county level, though neither counties nor districts are required to form or utilize a SARB. SARBs were established by the state legislature to bring together the school district, law enforcement, public agencies and other key stakeholders to develop methods for combating truancy and absenteeism. The relationships built through SARBs help agencies and schools identify and implement personalized intervention strategies for at-risk students and their families. For more information on SARBs, see http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ai/sb/.

School Attendance Review Team (SART): A SART is a team formed at the school site (rather than the district level) that generally includes the parent and the student, the principal, the teacher and the SARB Chairperson. The goal of this team is to identify ways to improve the students' attendance and/or behavior without having to engage the district-level SARB or, later, law enforcement.

Severe Chronic Absence: Severe chronic absence is defined as being absent for any reason (excused or unexcused) for at least 20% of the school year or more than 36 days in a 180 day school year.

Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC): This is a new testing system that is designed to gauge student progress toward college and career readiness. There are formative, interim, and summative components to the assessments, all of which are aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

State School Attendance Review Board (State SARB): The State SARB, established under Education Code Section 48325, oversees and assists the county and local SARBs across California. Its purpose is statewide policy coordination and personnel training to divert students with serious attendance and behavior problems from the juvenile justice system and to reduce the number of dropouts in the state public education system. The State SARB makes annual recommendations to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) regarding the needs of high-risk youth (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ai/sb/sarbmembers.asp).

State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI): The State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) is a state official elected by the people on a nonpartisan ballot for a four-year term. The Superintendent of Public Instruction is responsible for the well-being of all of the schools in the state, serves as the executive officer and secretary of the SBE, and is responsible for preparing an annual estimate of the amount of education funding that will be apportioned to each county.

Student-level attendance records: Attendance records for individual students.

Tardy: The term tardy is not specifically defined in the California Education Code, but Education Code section 48260 subdivision (a) renders a student tardy if they are absent without an excuse for more than a 30-minute period.

Truancy: Truancy generally refers to a student’s accumulation of unexcused absences and/or tardies during the school year. In California, a student who is tardy or absent from school for more than a 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions within the same school year is deemed a truant. (See Education Code section 48293.) Different states define truancy differently. For example, South Carolina defines a truant as a child, at least 6 but not yet 17 years old, who has accumulated three consecutive unlawful absences or a total of five unlawful absences. However, Mississippi defines a truant as a student that has accumulated five (5) or more unlawful absences in a school year, excluding suspension and expulsion days.

(First) Truancy Notification letter (T1): The T1 is a letter from the school district required under California law notifying a student’s parent or guardian of the student’s first truancy. The notification must include the following information: (1) That the pupil is truant; (2) That the parent or guardian is obligated to compel the attendance of the pupil at school; (3) That parents or guardians who fail to meet this obligation may be guilty of an infraction and subject to prosecution; (4) That alternative educational programs are available in the district; (5) That the parent or guardian has the right to meet with appropriate school personnel to discuss solutions to the pupil’s truancy; (6) That the pupil may be subject to prosecution under Education Code section 48264; (7) That the pupil may be subject to suspension, restriction, or delay of the pupil's driving privilege pursuant to Vehicle Code section 13202.7; and (8) That it is recommended that the parent or guardian accompany the pupil to school and attend classes with the pupil for one day.

(Second) Truancy Notification Letter (T2): If a student who has once been reported as a truant is again absent or tardy in excess of 30 minutes from school without a valid excuse one or more days after the first report of truancy, the school district must report the student as a truant to the attendance supervisor or the superintendent of the school district. Although not legally required to send a letter to the family of a truant student, many districts send a second notification of truancy letter (T2) to inform parents that their child continues to have an attendance problem.

(Third) Truancy Notification Letter (T3): Upon the fifth unexcused absence or tardy in excess of 30 minutes, parents must be notified using a T3 letter. Additionally, once a student is reported as truant three or more times in a school year, a school district officer or employee must make a “conscientious effort” to hold at least one meeting with the student’s parent or guardian and the student. The requirement that the school district make a conscientious effort means “attempting to communicate with the parents of the pupil at least once using the most cost-effective method possible.”

Appendix B: Research Methodology

The data used in this year’s report comes from multiple sources. First, we used the 2016 District Leadership Survey on Truancy and Chronic Absence. We also reviewed of 214 district Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs). Additionally, Eagle Software, one of the state’s leading student information system providers, provided student-level attendance data for 6 years, as well as performance on standardized assessments and suspensions, for nearly 200 of their client districts who granted permission. Data about funding and truancy were also provided by the California Department of Education. Interviews with leaders of select county offices of education and school districts, as well as researchers and advocates, were also utilized throughout the report.

Survey Methodology

This year the Attorney General’s Office again conducted the California School District Leadership Survey. 307 school district leaders responded, providing us with detailed information about their current attendance rates, practices, and procedures, as well as plans they have to improve their present systems. The survey was circulated electronically to all superintendents in California. A number of county offices of education also completed the survey. All responses were voluntary.

Interview Methodology

Our office conducted select interviews with district and county leaders, education researchers and advocates, all working to improve attendance across the state. Through these interviews we were able to collect information on several successful efforts to reduce truancy and chronic absence for elementary students. The interviewees provided additional data beyond our interviews. They also reviewed and approved the information presented about their district, county or organization in the report.

LCAP Review

This summer, the Attorney General’s Office and its partners at Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California, The Education Trust-West, Children Now, Attendance Works, and California School-Based Health Alliance, conducted a review of district LCAPs from across the state. The review consisted of 214 randomly selected LCAPs which varied by district location and student demographics. The review considered, among other things, the presence of truancy, chronic absence, suspension and expulsion data and goals, and whether or not they were disaggregated by subgroup. Reviewers also noted if the district included information on whether the district met their goals for reducing chronic absence in the “Annual Update” section of their LCAP. The LCAPs were reviewed online using a rubric designed in 2015 and updated in 2016 by the reviewing organizations.

Aeries Data Collection Methodology

This year, Eagle Software worked with the Attorney General’s office to obtain unique data for this analysis. Eagle Software is one of the leading student information system providers in California, representing over 530 school districts and local education agencies across the state. Eagle Software developed an extraction program in their Aeries student information system, which client districts could elect to run and submit. The program extracted de-identified student-level data, including absences, truancies, suspensions, demographic indicators, and performance on standardized assessments over six years. This data allowed us to investigate and report on trends overtime and differences between subgroups of students.

We include data from 179 school districts serving students in kindergarten through 5th grade in 2015-2016, resulting in a sample of 495,120 students. Table 1 provides the aggregate characteristics of students in our analytical sample compared to the demographics of the state’s K-12 student population.

Table 1: Characteristics of students

  Aeries Analytical Sample
K-5
2015-2016
California Student Population
K-12
2015-201627
male 52%  
female 48%  
African American 5% 6%
American Indian 1% 1%
Asian 7% 9%
Filipino 2% 3%
Hispanic 55% 54%
Pacific Islander 0% 0%
White 25% 24%
Multi Racial 5% 3%
Low-SES 63% 59%
EL 28% 22%
SPED 11% 12%
Foster 0% 1%
Homeless 4% 6%
Total Students 495,120 6,235,520

School District Revenue Calculations

To explore the revenues school districts forgo due to student absences, we examined enrollment, ADA and school district funding data for the 2015-16 school year. For our calculations, we subtracted ADA from enrollment for each school district, and then multiplied that figure by each district’s ADA funding rate to estimate a total loss of funds by district. For elementary districts, we estimated the per pupil ADA funding rate as the average funding rate for TK-3, 4-6 and 7-8 grades. For high school districts we estimated the per pupil ADA funding rate as the 9-12 grade funding rate. For unified school districts, we estimated the per pupil funding rate based on the average rate for TK-3, 4-6, 7-8 and 9-12 grades. For Basic Aid districts, which do not lose state dollars due to absences, we included a zero for their total loss amount. Data by districts were then collapsed by county.

Elementary Truancy Rate Calculations

Data on census enrollment, cumulative enrollment and the number of truant students in each school in California are now publicly available from the California Department of Education. Truancy rates were calculated by dividing the number of truants in each elementary school by the school’s cumulative enrollment. The analysis included only public elementary schools.

Footnote:

  1. From school, it is a clear indication of bigger challenges in that child’s life. It is our obligation to answer this call for help and intervene, so that all children can meet their full potential.
  2. Our analysis of Aeries data indicates that the chronic absence rate for elementary students has remained relatively stable over the last few years.
  3. In California, a student who is tardy or absent from school for more than a 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions within the same school year is deemed a truant.
  4. In School + On Track 2015 (2015) State of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General;
    The Facts About Chronic Absence (2013) Attendance Works;
    Hernandez, Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation (2012) Hunter College and Graduate Center City University of New York
  5. Severe chronic absence is defined as being absent for any reason (excused or unexcused) for at least 20% of the school year or more than 36 days in a 180 day school year.
  6. A student is deemed a 'chronic truant' if they are absent from school without a valid excuse for 10% or more of the school year.
  7. Note that the sample size for African American students is 1376, less than 1% of the K-5 sample, but 7% of all homeless students.
  8. Other studies have found significantly higher chronic absence rates for preschool students. For example, Ehrlich, Stacy B., et al. (2013), found that 45% of 3-year-olds and 36% of 4-year-olds in the Chicago Public Schools missed at least 10% of the school year in 2011-2012.
  9. Our analysis includes both transitional kindergarten and preschool students enrolled in our sample schools. Racial group and subgroup trends are similar when considering transitional kindergarten and preschool students separately.
  10. Chang and Balfanz, Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence (September 2016) Attendance Works and Everyone Graduates Center ( hereinafter 'Preventing Missed Opportunity' ).
  11. Elementary school truancy rates are calculated based on publicly available data from the California Department of Education.
  12. Courtney, Charles, Okpych, Napolitano, and Halsted, Findings from the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH): Conditions of Foster Youth at Age 17 (2014) Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
  13. Education of Foster Youth in California (May 28, 2009) Legislative Analyst’s Office.
  14. This funding estimate is calculated from ADA, enrollment and school funding data provided by the California Department of Education. Loss of funding calculations are estimates based on the available data.
    Moreover, three quarters of all foster youth read below grade level in third grade and by third grade 83% have had to repeat a grade.
  15. The average investment and return was calculated from a sample size of 86 districts that responded to our survey. From the districts that had reported data for both spend and return related to attendance (even if that was zero), the average dollar spend and dollar return per district was calculated.
  16. This calculation only includes LCAPs that had clearly labeled data for the current year, not unmarked data or data from previous years.
  17. What is Chronic Absence? (2011) ATTENDANCE WORKS.
  18. Making Data Work (September 21, 2016) Attendance Works.
  19. In School + On Track, supra; The Facts About Chronic Absence, supra.
  20. Bruner, Discher, and Chang, Chronic Elementary Absenteeism: A Problem Hidden in Plain Sight (November 2011) Attendance Works and Child & Family Policy Center.
  21. Hernandez, supra.
  22. Chang and Leong, Early Intervention Matters: How Addressing Chronic Absence Can Reduce Dropout Rates (May 24, 2013) Attendance Works.
  23. Although the law requires reporting the second truancy to the attendance supervisor or the superintendent, there is no requirement that the parent or guardian be notified of the second truancy.
  24. Rogers and Feller, Reducing Student Absence at Scale (Working paper, February 24, 2016).
  25. California Education Code section 60901, subdivision (c)(1).
  26. Preventing Missed Opportunity, supra.
  27. Low-SES, SPED, foster and homeless enrollment data is from 2014-2015, the most recent year available.
Acknowledgments

The Attorney General’s office is grateful to the many members of the education, law enforcement, and non-profit communities who generously contributed their time and insight towards this report.

Special Project Team

Kamala D. Harris
Attorney General
Shannon K. Hovis Senior Policy Advisor
Kelsey Krausen Senior Education Research Fellow
Ben Chida Attorney Advisor
Sherrie Reed Education Research Fellow
Aunna Wilson Education Research Fellow
Jennifer King Executive Assistant

The recommendations expressed in this report are based on research and input from the staff of the Attorney General’s Special Project Team and office. These recommendations should not be considered as representing the views of any agency or organization that contributed to the report.

Acknowledgements

The Attorney General’s office thanks the many members of the education, law enforcement, and non-profit communities who generously gave their time and insight to discuss ways to combat the crisis of truancy and chronic absence in California’s elementary schools. This report reflects the hard work and dedication of the full range of community partners engaged in improving attendance for California’s youngest students. We acknowledge and thank you for your contributions to this project. Most importantly, we thank you for the work you do every day to help students and their families.

Below is a list of the over 462 schools, school districts, and county offices of education throughout California, as well as non-profit organizations and others, who have contributed to this report.

Key Partners

Children Now Attendance Works
Eagle Software California Department of Education
The Education Trust-West California School-Based Health Alliance
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids  

Contributors from the Education Community

ABC Unified School District Ackerman Charter School District
Adelanto Elementary School District Alameda Unified School District
Albany Unified School District Alexander Valley Union School District
Alpine County Unified School District Alta Dutch Flat School District
Alta Vista Elementary School District Alum Rock Union Elementary School District
Alvina Elementary Charter School Alvord Unified School District
Amador County Unified School District / Office of Education Anaheim City School District
Anaheim Elementary School District Anaheim Union High School District
Anderson Union High School District Antioch Unified School District
Apple Valley Unified School District Arena Union Elementary School District
Arvin Union School District Atascadero Unified School District
Auburn Union School District Azusa Unified School District
Ballard School District Ballico-Cressey Elementary School District
Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District Bassett Unified School District
Beardsley Elementary School District Beaumont Unified School District
Bella Vista Elementary School Belleview School District
Bellevue Union School District Bellflower Unified School District
Belmont-Redwood Shores School District Benicia Unified School District
Bennett Valley Union School District Berkeley Unified School District
Beverly Hills Unified School District Big Creek Elementary School District
Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District Big Pine Unified School District
Big Springs Union Elementary School District Big Sur Unified School District
Big Valley Joint Unified School District Biggs Unified School District
Black Butte Union Elementary School District Blake Elementary School District
Bonita Unified School District Bonny Doon Union Elementary School District
Bonsall Unified School District Brea-Olinda Unified School District
Brentwood Union Elementary School District Buena Vista Elementary School District
Burbank Unified School District Burnt Ranch Elementary School District
Burton School District Butte County Office of Education
Cabrillo Unified School District Calaveras Unified School District
Caliente Union School District Campbell Union School District
Capistrano Unified School District Carlsbad Unified School District
Carpinteria Unified School District Carter G. Woodson Charter Schools
Castaic Union School District Castle Rock Union Elementary School District
Castro Valley Unified School District Center Joint Unified School District
Central Elementary School District Central Unified School District
Central Union Elementary School District Centralia Elementary School District
Ceres Unified School District Chaffey Joint Union High School District
Charter Oak Unified School District Chatom Union School District
Chawanakee Unified School District Chico Unified School District
Chino Valley Unified School District Chowchilla Elementary School District
Chowchilla Union High School District Cienega Union School District
Cinnabar Charter & Elementary School District Claremont Unified School District
Clovis Unified School District Coachella Valley Unified School District
Coalinga-Huron Unified School District Colfax Elementary School District
Colton Joint Unified School District Columbia Elementary School District
Colusa Unified School District Compton Unified School District
Corcoran Joint Unified School District Corona-Norco Unified School District
Cottonwood Union Elementary School District Covina-Valley Unified School District
Credo Charter School District Cucamonga Elementary School District
Cupertino Union School District Curtis Creek Elementary School District
Cutten Elementary School District Cuyama Joint Unified School District
Cypress Elementary School District Davis Joint Unified School District
Dehesa School District Delano Joint Union High School District
Delhi Unified School District Desert Sands Unified School District
Dinuba Unified School District Dixon Unified School District
Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Unified School District Duarte Unified School District
Ducor Union Elementary School District Durham Unified School District
Earlimart Elementary School District East Whittier City Elementary School District
Eastern Sierra Unified School District Edison Elementary School District
El Rancho Unified School District El Segundo Unified School District
Elk Grove Unified School District Empire Union School District
Escalon Unified School District Esparto Unified School District
Etiwanda School District Evergreen Elementary School District
Evergreen Union School District Exeter Unified School District
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District Fall River Joint Unified School District
Fallbrook Union Elementary School District Fallbrook Union High School District
Farmersville Unified School District Feather Falls Union Elementary School District
Ferndale Unified School District Fillmore Unified School District
Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District Foresthill Union School District
Forestville Union School District Fort Bragg Unified School District
Fort Sage Unified School District Fortuna Elementary School District
Fountain Valley Elementary School District Fowler Unified School District
Fremont Unified School District Fresno County Office of Education
Fresno Unified School District Garden Grove Unified School District
Gerber Union Elementary School District Gilroy Unified School District
Glendale Unified School District Glendora Unified School District
Golden Plains Unified School District Golden Valley Unified School District
Gonzales Unified School District Grant Elementary School District
Gratton Elementary School District Green Point School District
Greenfield Union Elementary School District Grenada Elementary School District
Gridley Unified School District Guadalupe Union School District
Guidance Charter School Gustine Unified School District
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Happy Camp Elementary School
Hart-Ransom Union Elementary School District Hawthorne School District
Healdsburg Unified School District Heber Elementary School District
Hemet Unified School District Hickman Community Charter District
Holtville Unified School District Hope Elementary School District
Horicon Elementary School District Hueneme Elementary School District
Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union Elementary Huntington Beach City School District
Imperial Unified School District Indian Springs Elementary School District
International Polytechnic High School Jamestown School District
Jamul Dulzura Union School District Jefferson School District
John Swett Unified School District Junction Elementary School District
Kashia Elementary School District Kelseyville Unified School District
Kerman Unified School District Kern County Superintendent of Schools
Kernville Union Elementary School District Kid Street Learning Center
Kings County Office of Education Kingsburg Joint Union High School District
Kirkwood Elementary School District Kit Carson Union Elementary School District
Konocti Unified School District La Canada Unified School District
LA County Education Programs LA County High School for the Arts
LA County Office of Education Lafayette Elementary
Lafayette School District Lake Tahoe Unified School District
Lamont Elementary School District Lancaster School District
Larkspur-Corte Madera School District Lawndale Elementary School District
Le Grand Union High School District Leggett Valley Unified School District
Liberty School District Linden Unified School District
Lindsay Unified School District Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District
Livingston Union School District Lodi Unified School District
Lone Pine Unified School District Long BeachUnified School District
Loomis Union School District Los Alamitos Unified School District
Los Angeles Unified School District Los Molinos Unified School District
Lost Hills Union Elementary School District Lucia Mar Unified School District
Lynwood Unified School District Magnolia Union Elementary School District
Mammoth Unified School District Manhattan Beach Unified School District
Manteca Unified School District Manzanita Elementary School District
Maple Creek Elementary School District Maple School District
Marin County Office of Education Mariposa County Unified School District
Mark West Union Elementary Martinez Unified School District
Marysville Joint Unified School District Mattole Unified School District
McFarland Unified School District McKittrick Elementary School District
McSwain Union Elementary School District Mendota Unified School District
Merced City Elementary School District Meridian Elementary School District
Middletown Unified School District Milpitas Unified School District
Modoc Joint Unified School District Mojave Unified School District
Monrovia Unified School District Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary School District
Montgomery Elementary School District Moraga Elementary School District
Moreland School District Moreno Valley Unified School District
Morgan Hill Unified School District Morongo Unified School District
Mother Lode Union School District Mountain Empire Unified School District
Mountain View Elementary School District Mountain View Los Altos High School District
Mt. Diablo Unified School District Murrieta Valley Unified School District
Napa Valley Unified School District Needles Unified School District
New Haven Unified School District Newcastle Elementary School District
Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District North Cow Creek Elementary School District
North Monterey County Unified School District Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District
Novato Unified School District Nuestro Elementary School District
Oak Grove Union School District Oak Park Unified School District
Oak Valley Union Elementary School District Oakland Unified School District
Ocean View School District Orange Center Elementary School District
Orange County Department of Education Orinda Union School District
Orland Unified School District Oro Grande Elementary School District
Oroville Elementary School District Oroville Union High School District
Outside Creek Elementary Owens Valley Unified School District
Oxnard School District Pacific Elementary School District
Pacifica School District Palo Verde Unified School District
Palo Verde Union Elementary School District Panama-Buena Vista Union School District
Paradise Elementary School District Paramount Unified School District
Parlier Unified School District Pasadena Unified School District
Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Piedmont Unified School District
Pierce Joint Unified School District Pioneer Union School District
Pixley Union Elementary School District Placer County Office of Education
Placer Hills Union School District Placer Union High School District
Placerville Union School District Pleasant Ridge Union School District
Pleasant Valley Joint Union Elementary School District Pleasanton Unified School District
Plumas County Office of Education Plumas Lake Elementary School District
Plumas Unified School District Point Arena Schools
Pomona Unified School District Pond Union Elementary School District
Porterville Unified School District Poway Unified School District
Redding Elementary School District Redondo Beach Unified School District
Reed Union School District Reeds Creek Elementary School District
Reef-Sunset Unified School District Rescue Union School District
Rialto Unified School District Richgrove School District
Rim of the World Unified School District Rincon Valley Union School District
Rio Dell Elementary School District Ripon Unified School District
River Delta Unified School District Riverbank Unified School District
Riverdale Joint Unified School District Riverside Unified School District
Rosemead School District Roseville City School District
Ross Valley School District Round Valley Joint Elementary School District
Saddleback Valley Unified School District Samueli Academy
San Antonio Union Elementary School District San Benito High School District
San Bernardino City Unified School District San Carlos Elementary School District
San Diego Unified School District San Gabriel Unified School District
San Jacinto Unified School District San Jose Unified School District
San Lorenzo Unified School District San Lucas Union Elementary School District
San Luis Coastal Unified School District San Luis Obispo County Office of Education
San Marino Unified School District San Rafael City School District
Sanger Unified School District Santa Barbara Unified School District
Santa Clara Elementary School District Santa Clara Unified School District
Santa Maria-Bonita School District Santa Paula Unified School District
Santa Rosa City Schools Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District
Saratoga Union School District Saugus Union School District
Sausalito Marin City School District Scotts Valley Unified School District
Sebastopol Unified School District Seeley Union School District
Selma Unified School District Sequoia Union Elementary School District
Shandon Joint Unified School District Sierra-Plumas Joint Unified School District
Silver Valley Unified School District Simi Valley Unified School District
Solana Beach School District Solano County Office of Education
Sonoma County Office of Education South Bay Union School District
South Monterey County Joint Union High School District South Pasadena Unified School District
South San Francisco Unified School District Southern Humboldt Unified School District
Standard Elementary School District Stanislaus County Office of Education
Stockton Unified School District Stony Creek Joint Unified School District
STREAM Charter School Sulphur Springs School District
Summerville Elementary School District Sundale Union Elementary School District
Sunnyside Union Elementary School District Sunnyvale School District
Susanville School District Sutter Union High School District
Taft City School District Taft Union High School District
Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District Tehachapi Unified School District
Temecula Preparatory School Temple City Unified School District
Thermalito Union Elementary School District Three Rivers Union School District
Tipton Elementary School District Torrance Unified School District
Tracy Unified School District Travis Unified School District
Tres Pinos Union Elementary School District Trinidad Union School District
Tulare City School District Tulare Joint Union High School District
Tulelake Basin Joint Unified School District Turlock Unified School District
Ukiah Unified School District Union Elementary School District
Union Hill School District Upland Unified School District
Upper Lake Union Elementary School District Upper Lake Union High School District
Val Verde Unified School District Vallejo City Unified School District
Victor Elementary School District Village Charter School
Vista Unified School District W.E.B. Dubois Charter School
Walnut Creek Elementary School District Walnut Valley Unified School District
Wasco Union Elementary School District Washington Colony Elementary School District
Washington Unified School District Waterford Unified School District
Waugh Elementary School District Weaver Union School District
Weed Union Elementary School District West Covina Unified School District
West Park School District Westminster School District
Westmorland Union Elementary School District Westside Union School District
Westwood Unified School District Whittier City School District
Whittier Union High School District Williams Unified School District
Willits Unified School District Wilmar Union School District
Wilsona School District Winship-Robbins Elementary School District
Winters Joint Unified School District Woodlake Unified School District
Woodland Joint Unified School District Wright Elementary School District
Yolo County Office of Education Yosemite Unified School District
Yreka Union School District Yuba City Unified School District
Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District  

Special Thanks

This report benefits from the counsel and support of the Special Project Team and many other contributors involved with the California Attorney General’s Truancy project.

Thanks to the following individuals in the California Department of Justice for their contributions to this report: Daniel Suvor, Chief of Policy; Robert Sumner, Director, Office of Legislative Affairs; Justin Ito, Daniel Shiah, Johnathan Elmore, Emer McKenna, and Curtis Dao, Website Design Team; Mitchell Pryor, Tricia Morgensen, and Janet Mistchenko, Communications and Imaging Resource Center; Aditya Ramachandran, Elizabeth Schilling and Divine Edem, Policy Interns.

Attorney General Harris is also grateful to our invaluable partners – Children Now, Attendance Works, California Department of Education, California School-Based Health Alliance, Education Trust-West, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, and The Chronic Absence and Attendance Partnership – for their generous support and feedback on this report, and to the Rosenberg Foundation, California Community Foundation, and Haas Jr. Fund for their support.

In addition, special thanks are extended to: Ted Lempert, President, Children Now; Brad Strong, Senior Director, Education Policy, Children Now; Elizabeth Cavagnaro, Finance and Operations Manager, Children Now; Brent Lloyd, Vice President, Eagle Software; Camden Iliff, Director of Programming, Eagle Software; Hedy Chang, Director, Attendance Works; Cecelia Leong, Associate Director, Attendance Works; Annie Lionberger Reed Special Projects Manager, Attendance Works; Karissa Yee Findley, Special Projects Manager, Attendance Works; Brian Lee, California State Director, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Patrick Mortiere, Program Assistant, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Amuunaa Zulkhuu, Intern, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Serena Clayton, Executive Director, California School-Based Health Alliance; Lisa Eisenberg, Senior Policy Analyst, California School-Based Health Alliance; Janine Saunders, Senior Project Director, California School-Based Health Alliance; Stephanie Guinosso, Project Director, California School-Based Health Alliance; Molly Baldridge, Program Manager, California School-Based Health Alliance; Israel Rodriguez Rubio, Executive Program Assistant, California School-Based Health Alliance; Laura Farris, Intern, California School-Based Health Alliance; Ryan Smith, Executive Director, The Education Trust-West; Ramya Gopal, Policy Analyst, The Education Trust-West; Gordon Jackson, Assistant Superintendent, California Department of Education; David Kopperud, State School Attendance Review Board Chairperson, California Department of Education; Marc Riera, Data Reporting Office, California Department of Education; Elizabeth Dearstyne, Administrator, Principal Apportionment and Special Education Office, School Fiscal Services Division, California Department of Education; Masha Lutsuk, School Fiscal Services Division, California Department of Education; Dwight Bonds, Executive Director, California Association of African-American Superintendents & Administrators; Kate Emanuel, Senior Vice President, Nonprofit and Government Relations, The Ad Council; Alicia Maldonado, Consultant, Campaign for Grade Level Reading; Michelle Traiman, Director, Foster Ed; Casey Schutte, Director, Foster Ed: California; Todd Rogers, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Nancy Erbstein, Assistant Research Professor, UC Davis; Heather Rose, Assistant Professor, UC Davis.

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