Tahoe-Truckee schools see improvement with chronic absenteeism | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-Truckee schools see improvement with chronic absenteeism

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com
The rate of TTUSD students chronically absent has decreased by 3 percentage points over the past 2 school years.
Courtesy Thinkstock.com | iStockphoto

By the numbers

455: TTUSD students chronically absent in 2013-14

518: TTUSD students chronically absent in 2012-13

555: TTUSD students chronically absent in 2011-12

12 percent: Percentage of 3,664 students chronically absent in 2013-14

14 percent: Percentage of 3,656 students chronically absent in 2012-13

15 percent: Percentage of 3,631 students chronically absent in 2011-12

— More online: Visit www.ttusd.org" target="_blank">Bold">www.ttusd.org to learn more about chronic absenteeism and to get past figures. The information can be found through the “Report on Efforts to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism” link on the Sept. 3, 2014, Board of Education agenda.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — A collaborative effort by school district staff and families to see fewer students missing class is seeing positive results, but there is still work to do, officials said.

In the past two years, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s rate of chronic absenteeism has dropped from 15 percent to 12 percent, which equals 100 more students attending school regularly.

“This is significant overall, but more importantly is the difference this will make in learning for these individual students,” said Rob Leri, TTUSD superintendent.

For the 2013-14 school year, 455 students out of 3,664 were chronically absent, down from 555 students out of 3,631 in 2011-12.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student missing 10 percent or more of the school year for any reason.

Within TTUSD, that translates to 18 or more missed days of school for reasons including illness, excused or unexcused absences, a non-school activity, an in-house suspension, a cut and/or an unverified absence.

Each school day missed is hours of instruction lost and a day of classroom interaction with students and teachers that cannot be recovered, according to the district. When students are chronically absent, it also slows down instruction as other students must wait while the teacher repeats material.

“To continue to lower chronic absenteeism, TTUSD is again communicating clear expectations for student attendance from the start of school and throughout the school year,” Leri said.

This year, TTUSD is participating in September’s Attendance Awareness Month, a national event recognizing the connection between school attendance and student achievement, according to the district.

Nationally, the youngest and oldest students tend to have the highest rates of chronic absenteeism, with students attending most regularly in third- through fifth-grade, a trend on which TTUSD has improved since 2011-12.

In the 2013-14 year, 8 percent of TTUSD kindergartners (35 students) were chronically absent, with the rate staying in the single digits until seventh grade with 10 percent (28 students).

In the upper grades, 22 percent of ninth- graders (61 students) were chronically absent in 2013-14, followed by 27 percent of 10-graders (66 students), 28 percent of 11-graders (63 students) and 41 percent of 12-graders (78 students).

“Everyone has a stake and role in ensuring that students are in school every day, and that’s why TTUSD is committing resources and attention to address this often overlooked problem,” Leri said in a statement.

This year, the district plans to tighten up reporting period absences at the high school level, provide positive acknowledgements for improved attendance patterns and increase access to referrals for health care and mental health support.

“Our ultimate goal in addressing chronic absenteeism is to ensure that every student has the opportunity to learn and be successful,” Leri said.