Dear community member,
Last month I shared the sobering statistics around chronic absenteeism across California’s schools, including here in Santa Cruz County.
Today is the start of National School Attendance Awareness Month, which is all about raising awareness of the positive impacts of consistent school attendance. There has perhaps never been a more important time to have this conversation than now, which is why today I am pleased to announce the launch of a countywide Attendance Awareness campaign in partnership with our 10 school districts and nonprofit Attendance Works.
As part of this campaign, families will receive more information from their school about the importance of attendance. We have also created an online resource portal to provide resources for families and educators to support this conversation with data, strategies, activities, and tools.
One point I want to underscore is how quickly absences can add up. Just two absences per month puts a student on track to miss 10% of the school year and become chronically absent. To put that into context, a student who misses two days of school per month will haved missed an entire school year by the time they are in high school.
We know that when students miss school, there are far-reaching implications. Students miss out on valuable classroom interactions, vital lessons, social-emotional support, and extracurricular activities, and in turn experience learning gaps, decreased academic achievement, and social isolation.
Chronic absenteeism can translate into students having difficulty learning to read by the third grade, achieving academically in middle school, and graduating from high school. In fact, attendance in 9th grade is a better predictor of a student’s chances of graduating than their 8th-grade test scores.
This is only the start of the conversation. The Attendance Awareness campaign will continue throughout the school year, and we invite families and partners to join us in shining a spotlight on this important issue – understanding that addressing chronic absenteeism will require a collaborative effort between schools, teachers, parents and guardians, and the wider community.
Yours in education and equity,
Dr. Faris Sabbah
County Superintendent of Schools