Solano coalition moves forward with efforts to decrease chronic absence
FAIRFIELD – Solano County Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck announced today that local school districts are coordinating efforts to boost student attendance by addressing chronic absences. Chronic absences occur when a student misses 10 percent or more total school days, about 18 days per year, for any reason including excused absences.
“Research proves that students who are chronically absent in Kindergarten and 1st grade are far less likely to read proficiently by 3rd grade,” said Speck. “For every day of school missed, it takes three days to make up what was taught. By the 6th grade, if a student continues to be chronically absent, it is a leading indicator of whether he or she will drop out of high school. In the 9th grade, chronic absences are a better indicator than test scores of a student’s likelihood to graduate from high school.”
Speck made his announcement to mark the one-year anniversary of the elementary Truancy Court. Speck has been working with Solano County District Attorney Donald A. du Bain to address chronic truancy at the elementary school level. This partnership between the Solano County Office of Education (SCOE), District Attorney, Superior Court, and our county’s local school districts resulted in the one-year-old elementary Truancy Court established to keep students in grades K-6 attending school daily. A Student Support Specialist from SCOE attends all court proceedings, acts as a liaison between the courts and the schools, provides resources to families, and meets with them regularly to address barriers that may have an effect on their children’s school attendance.
Judge Robert C. Fracchia, Presiding Juvenile Judge of Truancy Court in Fairfield, said “I am pleasantly surprised at the progress we have made thus far with our truancy intervention. Parents appearing in court are generally responsive to our program, and we have seen marked improvement amongst families with a chronic history of truancy. It has been important to have parents understand that there are real consequences for their failure to ensure their children's attendance in school. It is critical to break the cycle of truancy early, as adolescents who are habitually truant are far more likely to end up in our delinquency court down the road.”
“The Truancy Court has made a tremendous difference in Benicia Unified’s School Attendance Review Board (SARB) process,” said Michael Gardner, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Benicia Unified School District. “For the first time, parents and students are taking the process seriously. We are very grateful to District Attorney du Bain for establishing Truancy Court.”
SCOE will launch an awareness campaign in the next few weeks entitled School Attendance - Every Minute Matters: From Awareness to Action. The campaign is designed to provide communication resources to schools, engage school communities, and boost student attendance as soon as children enter school.
“In order for students to learn, they need to attend school every day,” continued Speck. “That’s why I am calling on students, parents, and the community to join me in making sure students get to school every day and on time.” All six school districts - Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield-Suisun, Travis, Vacaville, and Vallejo - have pledged to focus on boosting student attendance this school year.