DOWNEY – The Downey Unified School District, along with five other programs in California schools, have been designed as models of attendance improvement and dropout prevention by the State School Attendance Review Board (SARB). DUSD was also chosen to mentor other districts throughout California to assist in attendance rates.
Local SARBs are created by school districts to assist students with attendance problems that sometimes are due to chronic illness, truancy, transportation problems, disabilities and behavioral health issues. Members of SARBs represent agencies that serve youth.
Recent studies have shown that chronic absenteeism that begins in kindergarten can result in major reading problems by third grade. Many students’ academic struggles can be traced to early attendance problems.
“Keeping kids in school and learning is at the heart of these efforts,” said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction. “In California, we have a group of exceptional SARBs leading the way with strategies that help districts reduce chronic absenteeism and dropping out.”
DUSD officials said they are “very proud of its high student attendance rates.” In September, DUSD joined the county-wide “I’m In” attendance awareness campaign and the Los Angeles County School Attendance Task Force, announcing that September is designated as “School Attendance Month.”
DUSD decided to pledge its commitment, saying “I’m In”, to the observance of “School Attendance Month” and began this year with great focus. Developing a healthy competition between the schools and keeping attendance on everyone’s minds, monthly school attendance rates are now being publicized.
SARB 20, which is a program designed to steer students with school related problems away from the juvenile justice system, and the Downey Unified School District, regularly utilizes data to help meet the needs of students. For the last 10 years, DUSD has focused on reducing student suspensions and expulsion referrals by developing numerous interventions for students. Since 2003, expulsions cases have dropped by over 90 percent.
Warren High School’s vice principal recently received applause from the entire staff when he reported the number of student suspensions this school year had dropped by 56 percent at the semester.
By finding other ways to deal with discipline, DUSD said it is striving to graduate more students in the efforts to reach a 93.5 percent graduation rate established as a 2013- 2014 Board Goal.
The Downey Unified School District, along with the five model SARBs that serve seven California districts, will now act as mentors to help other county and district programs make improvements in their own districts’ attendance and dropout rates.
Published: June 12, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 09