SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson  announced today that 11 programs have been designated as models of attendance improvement and dropout prevention by the State School Attendance Review Board (State SARB).
Torlakson congratulated the 2012-13 Model SARBs  for their work in reducing the number of students who are chronically absent, which results in costing school districts millions of dollars each year in lost income and greatly increases the likelihood a student will drop out of school.
Reducing absenteeism is a major focus for Torlakson as new research points to chronic absence as a key indicator of a student’s academic future.
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“The old saw is true: a big part of success is showing up. To learn in school, children need to be in school and to stay in school,” said Torlakson. “Poor attendance leads to poor work, poor grades—and eventually poor career prospects. Regular attendance is essential for success in school and in life. I congratulate these districts for helping families and students meet this basic but crucial goal.”
Torlakson administers and coordinates the State SARB with representatives of school districts, parent groups, county superintendents of schools, law enforcement agencies, the health care profession, and child welfare and attendance personnel.
“These remarkably effective SARBs have long shared their insights and perspectives with other districts focusing on attendance improvement and dropout reduction,” he said. “I congratulate them on their continuing accomplishments.”
In May 2011, Torlakson convened a Chronic Absence Policy Forum to address the problem, and plans to convene a future forum focused on achieving attendance improvement and dropout reduction through community‒school collaboration.
Recent studies have shown that chronic absenteeism that starts in kindergarten can cause students to have major reading problems by the third grade. Studies of the dropout rate also trace many of students’ academic struggles to early attendance problems.
The State SARB has placed a major focus on monitoring chronic absentees and positive early interventions that keep students in the classroom, and is especially interested in seeing local SARBs promote collaboration within their communities by partnering with local agencies to strengthen attendance.
While local SARBS often have been associated with punitive approaches to the attendance problem, those that stressed collaboration and positive intervention were considered most worthy of recognition by State SARB members who reviewed applications for 2012-13 Model SARB recognition.
Districts recognized for their model attendance improvement and dropout reduction program are expected to serve as mentors for other review boards seeking to achieve model status. This year’s Model SARB awards will be presented on April 19 at the State Capitol in Sacramento
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