State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced recently that Escondido Union School District is among 27 school attendance programs across California to be 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," Torlakson said. "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."
Assembly Bill 2815 by Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell, D-Long Beach, was passed in 2016 and expanded the role of attendance supervisors with up-to-date strategies for reducing chronic absenteeism and truancy.
Model SARBs and their chairpersons serve as mentors for other school districts, and help them to develop their own strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism. The SARB representative for Escondido's K-8 district is Maria Osborn.
The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has partnered with several school districts, including Escondido Union, that have received Model SARB recognition, said SDCOE Program Specialist Gabriela Delgado.
"We share districts' best practices on a county level and contribute to an ongoing exchange of resources," Delgado said. "We are excited that Escondido Union's implementation of a three-tiered model, infused with a restorative approach, has yielded positive results for students."
The number of districts that applied to the Model SARB Recognition Program has tripled since 2016. The State SARB, an expert panel appointed by Torlakson, reviewed the applications.
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.
Poor attendance increases the likelihood that certain groups of students will drop out, including children living in poverty, African-Americans, Native Americans, students in foster care, 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 2016-17 school year. The definition of chronic absenteeism is missing 10 percent or more of the total days enrolled for any reason. Next year, 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 SARB awards will be presented at the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance State Conference on April 19 in Tahoe City.
For more information on School Attendance Review Boards and Model SARBs, visit the CDE website.