Carlsbad Unified families,
I hope your family is experiencing a positive start to the new school year. As president of the Board of Trustees of Carlsbad Unified School District, I’m writing today to remind you about the importance of regular school attendance.
For students, we know that good attendance is essential to academic success. But far too many students are at risk academically because they are chronically absent. Chronic absence is described as missing 10% of the school year—or about 18 days— for any reason.
Starting as early as preschool, chronic absence predicts lower 3rd grade reading scores. By middle school, research shows that chronically absent students are more likely to fail key classes and drop out of high school.
Good attendance is also essential to ensure stable funding for our schools. The vast majority of school funding from the state is based on an Average Daily Attendance calculation. When student absences increase, our state funding decreases. And it adds up - a change in district wide attendance of 1% in a school year is the same as about $1.3 million in state funding, with potential impacts to valuable programs like mental health support, class size reduction, career education, advanced learner acceleration, and more.
Last year, the statewide average daily attendance for unified school districts in California was 91.2%. Carlsbad Unified outpaced the statewide average, as our average daily attendance rate last year was 93.7%. However, this is more than 2% lower than our pre-pandemic average daily attendance rate of 95.9%. That 2% drop in attendance rate means fewer dollars to fund our schools - and it’s coming at a time we can least afford.
As noted last month by the San Diego Union-Tribune, schools across the country are dealing with the challenges of lower attendance rates. In Carlsbad, I’m confident that we can address this. By working together, we can ensure that more students are in school more often.
Please join me in stressing the importance of regular school attendance. Individually and collectively, it will make a positive impact on our kids. If you have ideas about ways to improve student attendance, feel free to reach out - to your teacher, to your principal, to the district office, or to me personally.
President of the Board
Carlsbad Unified School District