FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A new report by the state attorney general talks about improving elementary school attendance to prevent chronic truancy.
Truancy continues to be a problem statewide, especially when it comes to elementary age students. For the third year in a row the California Attorney General's Office released a report detailing schools issues with chronic absence and why getting to the root of attendance problems can improve student success. "It really highlights that we do have an issue with elementary school-- really setting a pattern for students to be successful later in life," said Dr. Kathryn Catania, Fresno County Office of Education.
The report details Fresno County saw a higher truancy rate, jumping nearly five-percent in a one year period. Madera County climbed more than 8-percent with neighboring counties inching small percentages higher.
Dr. Catania said implementing programs that provide community-wide encouragement and rewards can improve attendance rates. Take Kerman Unified, which last fall celebrated a stellar 98.3-percent attendance rate district-wide. "What are the engaging things that happen in schools that make students want to be there."
Fresno Unified officials said they've been working to tackle chronic absences since the attorney general's first report in 2013, focusing on engaging with parents in elementary school-- a point stressed in this year's report. "At the elementary we have 20 additional personnel, working at our elementary sites, working with students and families," said Ambra Dorsey, Fresno Unified School District.
Fresno Unified said its efforts have seen an improvement. School administrators reduced their chronic absence rate by more than 2-percent. Now, they'll be focusing on teaching parents of kindergarteners about the importance of going to school every day. "We're going to refocus starting now, not waiting til next year, really looking at the report and some of the recommendations, and similar reports, to our parents of young families," said Dorsey.
There's also a funding incentive. School districts are given more money for each student depending on how high their attendance rate is.