Sonoma County schools struggle with absenteeism, but beat peers … – Petaluma Argus Courier

Sonoma County’s largest school districts are struggling with high rates of chronic absenteeism and low test scores compared to their peers around the state, while still managing high graduation rates and average progress for English-learners.
The findings are contained in the latest update of the California Department of Education’s Schools Dashboard, which incorporates test results that were released in late October.
Those test results showed a sharp regression in English and math scores since 2019.
The dashboard offers a more complete picture of how schools are meeting the needs of students compared to state standards. The various metrics include graduation rates, suspension rates and English learning-progress.
This is the first set of dashboard data since 2019 because the department did not release data during the pandemic.
“Data is useful tool,” said Jennie Snyder, deputy superintendent for Educational Support Services at the Sonoma County Office of Education. “It doesn’t help us to understand why it’s low ― it doesn’t really tell us what we need to do to improve things, but it’s a signal that we really want to look more closely to understand what’s happening within a district system.”
Snyder said the dashboard helps SCOE identify areas of focus that can help educators develop annual plans for how districts can improve student performance.
According to the dashboard, the 10 Sonoma County districts with the highest enrollment had higher than average chronic absenteeism, which ranged from 21.5% at the Petaluma City Schools, 39.80% at the Santa Rosa City Schools to 50.1% at Cotati-Rohnert Park School District. The statewide average was 30%.
Most Sonoma County schools at least tripled their chronic absenteeism rates compared to pre-pandemic levels, which were around 10% in 2019.
A key factor for the high rates in the county and across the state was pandemic protocol around quarantining when students test positive or show symptoms of COVID-19, Snyder said.
The office is working with districts to address barriers and issues beyond COVID-19 protocols, while looking at local context and district practices, she said.
With the return to in-person learning, it took time for some community members to make the transition, Anna Trunnell, superintendent of Santa Rosa City Schools said in an email. Her district, the largest in the county, has seen a spike in absentee rates this year for a variety of reasons, including the cold and flu season.
Petaluma City Schools, the county’s second largest district, has also seen low attendance this year, approximately 4% lower than pre-pandemic levels, Superintendent Matthew Harris said in an email.
Groups that experienced the highest rates of chronic absenteeism included foster youth, students experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities, and Native American and Hispanic students.
Of the 998 students with disabilities at the Santa Rosa City Schools, more than half were chronically absent, which means they were absent 10% or more of the instructional days they were enrolled.
“We know that the pandemic shed light on members of our community who have been historically marginalized when it comes to health resources,” Trunnell said. “We are working with our parent community groups to understand what is needed in terms of services and support.”
One area that improved on the dashboard was suspension rates. While some districts reported higher than average percentages of students who were suspended for at least one day, such as the Santa Rosa City schools (5.2%) and Healdsburg Unified High (6.8%) the numbers were about 10% lower than in 2019 in the 10 largest districts. The state average was 3.1%.
Last year, Petaluma City Schools began to implement professional training for school leaders in how to address behavioral issues, which has contributed to a decline in suspensions, Harris, the superintendent, said.
Graduation rates in Sonoma County’s largest schools were also higher. The majority of the largest districts were at least 5% higher than the state average, which was 87.4%.
Some of Sonoma County’s school districts with large English-learning populations scored “medium” on the dashboard for English-learning progress, with numbers near the state average, which was 50.3%. Santa Rosa City Schools and Windsor Unified School District, however, scored “low” on the dashboard.
Jenn Guerrero, the multilingual learner specialist for SCOE, works with districts to support multilingual learners, their families and educators with programs, funding, family engagement and instruction.
“What we’re seeing in terms of English learners is really in line with the State of California,” Guerrero said, but suggests there’s room for improvement.
Multilingual learners have unique set of instructional needs an educational leaders need to engage them in language and content simultaneously, said Lauren Ridgway, the English language arts and development teacher at SCOE.
“It’s a reflection of reality,” she said.
It’s also important for the office to set teachers up to see multilingual students as a “whole being” with their own story and skill sets, Guerrero said, “not as an afterthought.”
“We believe in what these students can achieve and their limitless potential,” she said.
You can reach Staff Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or [email protected] On Twitter @alana_minkler.
UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:


About fira

Check Also

One Piece Film: Red Poster Shows Luffy’s New Outfit –

By Tyler Treese Another One Piece Film: Red poster has been released that shows off a new …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *