Two local school districts were among the 11 educational
agencies the State School Attendance Review Board recently recognized as models
of attendance improvement and dropout prevention.
Escondido Union School District and Grossmont Union High
School District will receive the awards April 24 at the State Conference of
the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance in
A more progressive, data-driven approach to absenteeism by
award-winning local and county school attendance review boards—or SARBs—provides
examples other districts can follow to keep students in the classroom, State
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.
“In California, we have a group of exceptional SARBs using
data-driven strategies to reduce their chronic absenteeism rates, improve
overall attendance, and reduce dropout rates,” Torlakson said. “You can have
the best facilities, the best teachers, and the best curriculum in the world,
but none of that matters if students are not in school.”
Local and county SARBs are created by school districts and
county offices of education to identify and assist students with attendance
problems that may be due to chronic illness, truancy, transportation problems,
disabilities, or behavioral health issues. Students and families are referred
for SARB hearings when a school has tried and failed to resolve attendance or
The Model SARB award recognizes excellence in specific
content areas, including community collaboration and measuring and reporting
outcomes for chronic absenteeism and overall district attendance.
Recent studies have shown that chronic absenteeism that
begins in kindergarten can result in major reading problems by third grade.
Many students’ academic struggles can be traced to early attendance problems.
“We are making progress with a greater awareness of how
chronic absenteeism in the early grades contributes to the state’s dropout
problem, and we are excited about how this early identification and
intervention will lead to lower dropout rates,” Torlakson said.
The California Department of Education is partnering with
county offices of education to help school districts use attendance tracking
technology to identify students with attendance problems and implement early
Torlakson said collaboration between school districts and
the community is critical to keeping students in school.
“Schools cannot succeed alone,” he said. “This is not just
about what schools can do, but what communities must do by working together on
The State SARB makes recommendations regarding the needs of
and services to high-risk youth. State SARB members evaluated applications for
the recognition program submitted by local SARBs and county SARBs throughout
The 11 model SARBs that serve California school districts
and counties now can act as mentors to help other county and district programs
improve their chronic absenteeism rates, attendance rates, and dropout rates.