New School Dashboard to Highlight Chronic Absenteeism in California Schools

The State Department of Education is scheduled to release the California School Dashboard next month and experts say it will serve as a rude awakening for local school districts on the growing problem of chronic absenteeism in school children.

New performance measures show that at least 40% of K-8 students in California school districts and charter schools have high or very high rates of chronic absenteeism. Those figures will not only be made available to school districts for the first time, but will come with a color-coding system that shows which districts are suffering the most.

“I think it will be a wake-up call for a lot of districts,” Cecilia Leong, associate director of programs for the San Francisco-based Attendance Works, told EdSource.

There is criticism, however, because the Dashboard will only include figures for K-8. Chronic absenteeism remains a pressing problem in high schoolers as well, but will not be included in the breakdown.

It’s not just funding that is at stake here. Studies shows a strong link between chronic school absences and problems ranging from poor reading and testing scores to dropout rates.

“This is where the school-to-prison pipeline starts, it’s where you can address a problem before it becomes a crisis,” said Rob Manwaring, a senior education policy advisor for Children Now. “These are kids that need the extra attention before they get to the point where they are not graduating.”

Read more at EdSource


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