Truancy and Absenteeism– what does it all mean?
You know by now I want your child at school every day. To understand why, you need to understand the difference between truancy, chronic absenteeism, and being late. There are different problems with each.
Truancy is defined by law. Here it is:
"EC Section 48260 (a) A pupil subject to compulsory full-time education or to compulsory continuation education who is absent from school without a valid excuse three full days in one school year or tardy or absent for more than a 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in one school year, or any combination thereof, shall be classified as a truant and shall be reported to the attendance supervisor or to the superintendent of the school district."
What this means is that every child should be in school unless there is a valid excuse. You are allowed three times per year to be absent or tardy more than 30 minutes per year - three times, that's it, by law. After the third and subsequent times, we send letters home to remind you of this violation. A meeting with the administrative team and attendance improvement is usually enough, but in extreme cases we refer families to the School Attendance Review Board (SARB). This meeting includes school and district members and law enforcement.
Chronic absenteeism is data the state of California has recently started collecting. Chronic absenteeism is totaled by adding all absences - excused and unexcused.
"A student is considered a chronic absentee if he or she is absent 10 percent of the days they were enrolled in a school. Chronic absence is different from truancy which counts only unexcused absences and indicates a violation of California's compulsory attendance laws. Average Daily Attendance (ADA) is the average number of students who attend school each day and is used for state funding purposes."
The point is that missing school, no matter what, is not good for learning. There are times that a family has no choice. Medical and family issues can lead to students missing school for understandable reasons, but the data are pretty clear on why this matters. Students who miss more than 10% are performing far below grade level.
That means that 5th and 6th graders who have missed more than 10% of the year are reading at an end of 2nd grade level. For 4th graders, they are reading at a beginning of 1st grade level. Missing school matters.
We understand things happen and families have to take children out of school . I just want to remind you the reason it feels like a tough choice to keep your child at home is because it is a big deal.