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  • Erica Peterson

Enrollment & Attendance Data: Crisis an Apt Description

Last week, the CA Dept. of Ed’s Learning Support Division invited SI&A to their quarterly State SARB meeting to discuss the major findings from a report prepared last month by SI&A at the request of SPI Thurmond on chronic absenteeism. The report examined attendance and enrollment data from 30+ school districts across California representing over 343,000 students. During the State SARB meeting, Education Programs Consultant, David Kopperud, explained that SI&A is the only agency with this type of comparative, contemporaneous data in California. He went on to state that he appreciated SI&A for “describing the current trends in California chronic absenteeism and what can be done to address the crisis.”

California is not unique in its numbers.

Crisis is an apt description. Thousands of students are missing. Total enrollment is down nearly 3.5%. Over 12,000 kids enrolled in these 30+ districts last year did not return when school started this year.

California is not unique in its numbers. This is a national trend. According to the November 22, 2020, episode of the news show 60 Minutes, students across the nation are not showing up. With counties across California returning to the purple tier of restrictions and guidelines, halting schools from returning to in-person instruction, it begs the question: What should districts do to keep the students they do have?

While not a new concept, ensuring districts have “the basics” covered is THE first step.

Tracking daily attendance and participation for each student, every day, and setting expectations of rigor around participation is required. Implementing a multi-tiered system of supports for attendance, including an early warning, prevention and intervention process across the district which alerts end-users at the first sign of at-risk behavior has transcended from something “nice to have” to a “must have”. Tossing aside old processes that have not sufficiently adapted to present reality and looking at data early to determine what changes are necessary is a moral imperative as chronic absenteeism and enrollment drops have reached crisis levels.

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