BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




                                                                  AB 374
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          Date of Hearing:   April 1, 2009

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                                Julia Brownley, Chair
                  AB 374 (Block) - As Introduced:  February 23, 2009
           
          SUBJECT  :   Dropout acknowledgement form

           SUMMARY  :  Requires each school district to produce a  
          Consequences of Dropping Out Acknowledgment Form, as described,  
          and requires a high school administrator or other certificated  
          employee who becomes aware of the intent of a pupil to drop out  
          of school prior to reaching age 18 or completing the  
          requirements for high school graduation, to make every  
          reasonable effort to provide the pupil with a copy of the form.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Requires each school district to produce a Consequences of  
            Dropping Out Acknowledgment form, make copies of the form, and  
            make it available to each of its schools that offer any of  
            grades 9 to 12, inclusive. 

          2)Specifies that the form shall include: 

             a)   Acknowledgment that the pupil has been informed of the  
               following:

               i)     The form does not grant a pupil the right to drop  
                 out of school and that he or she remains subject to the  
                 compulsory attendance requirements and truancy procedures  
                 set forth in state law;

               ii)    The potential consequences of dropping out of school  
                 include: greater difficulty in finding a job; reduced  
                 income and purchasing power; a greater likelihood of  
                 engaging in criminal activity; a greater likelihood of  
                 spending time in jail and/or prison; a greater likelihood  
                 of receiving welfare and/or other forms of public  
                 assistance; fewer choices about where to live; and a  
                 lesser likelihood of properly caring for and educating  
                 children; and  

               iii)   The pupil's right to reenroll in school to complete  
                 the requirements for graduation from high school, the  
                 procedure for reenrollment in school, and the  









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                 availability of alternative educational services,  
                 including continuation school, independent study, adult  
                 education, community college, and the General Educational  
                 Development (GED) tests.

             b)   Signature line for the pupil. 

             c)   Parent acknowledgement that he or she has been informed  
               of the following: 

               i)     His or her dependent remains subject to the  
                 compulsory attendance requirements and truancy procedures  
                 set forth in state law;

               ii)    The consequences of his or her child or dependent  
                 dropping out of school prior to reaching 18 years of age  
                 or completing the requirements for graduation from high  
                 school, as described; and
               iii)   His or her child's or dependent's right to reenroll  
                 in school to complete the requirements for graduation  
                 from high school, the procedure for reenrollment in  
                 school, and the availability of alternative educational  
                 services, including continuation school, independent  
                 study, adult education, community college, and the  
                 General Educational Development (GED) tests.

             d)   Signature line for the parent.

          3)Requires an administrator or other certificated employee of a  
            public school that offers any of grades 9 to 12, inclusive,  
            who becomes aware of the intent of a pupil to drop out of  
            school prior to reaching 18 years of age or completing the  
            requirements for graduation from high school, to make every  
            reasonable effort to provide the pupil with a copy of the  
            dropping out acknowledgment form provided by the school  
            district.

          4)Makes findings and declarations related to the consequences of  
            dropping out. 

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Provides that each person between the ages of 6 and 18 years  
            not exempted by existing law is subject to compulsory  
            full-time education and shall attend the public full-time day  









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            school or continuation school or classes and for the full time  
            designated as the length of the schoolday by the governing  
            board of the school district in which the residency of either  
            the parent or legal guardian is located.  Requires a parent,  
            guardian, or other person having control or charge of the  
            pupil to send the pupil to school, as specified.

          2)Authorizes an attendance supervisor, a peace officer, a school  
            administrator, or a probation officer to arrest or assume  
            temporary custody, during school hours, of any minor subject  
            to compulsory full-time education or to compulsory  
            continuation education found away from his or her home and who  
            is absent from school without valid excuse within the county,  
            city, or city and county, or school district.

          3)Provides that any pupil subject to compulsory full-time  
            education or to compulsory continuation education who is  
            absent from school without valid excuse three full days in one  
            school year or tardy or absent for more than any 30-minute  
            period during the schoolday without a valid excuse on three  
            occasions in one school year, or any combination thereof, is a  
            truant and shall be reported to the attendance supervisor or  
            to the superintendent of the school district.

          4)Requires, upon a pupil's initial classification as a truant,  
            the school district to notify the pupil's parent or guardian,  
            by first-class mail or other reasonable means that:

             a)   The pupil is truant;  
             b)   The parent or guardian is obligated to compel the  
               attendance of the pupil at school;
             c)   Parents or guardians who fail to meet this obligation  
               may be guilty of an infraction and subject to prosecution;
             d)   Alternative educational programs are available in the  
               district;
             e)   The parent or guardian has the right to meet with  
               appropriate school personnel to discuss solutions to the  
               pupil's truancy;
             f)   The pupil may be subject to prosecution;
             g)   The pupil may be subject to suspension, restriction, or  
               delay of the pupil's driving privilege; and
             h)   It is recommended that the parent or guardian accompany  
               the pupil to school and attend classes with the pupil for  
               one day.










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          5)Specifies that any parent, guardian, or other person having  
            control or charge of any pupil who fails to comply with  
            compulsory education laws, unless excused or exempted  
            therefrom, is guilty of an infraction and shall be punished as  
            specified. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   State-mandated local program.

           COMMENTS  :  Dropping out of school is a process that stems from  
          various factors.  According to research<1> conducted by Russell  
          Rumberger, director of the California Dropout Research Project  
          at the University of California, Santa Barbara, there are two  
          types of factors that predict whether students drop out or  
          graduate from high school: factors associated with individual  
          characteristics of students, and factors associated with the  
          institutional characteristics of their families, schools, and  
          communities.  Individual factors that predict whether students  
          drop out or graduate from high school include: educational  
          performance, behaviors, attitudes, and background.

          The author states, "Recent studies have shown that the high  
          school dropout rate is nearly 25% statewide, and as high as 33%  
          in places like Los Angeles. The dropout rate is especially high  
          among students of color.  For African American students it is  
          41.6% and 30.3% for Latino students.  Studies have also shown  
          that high school graduates create more wealth over their  
          lifetime, cost the state less money in public benefits, and are  
          less likely to end up in prison."

          California schools are indeed facing a critical dropout problem  
          as is demonstrated by information from the California Department  
          of Education (CDE) that estimates a 21.1% dropout rate for the  
          2006-07 school year.  The statistics show that minority students  
          fare much worse.  The dropout rate for African-American students  
          was estimated at 35.8% and for Latino students at 26.7%.  

           Costs and consequences of dropping out  :  High school dropouts  
          experience higher rates of unemployment; lower earnings; poorer  
          health and higher rates of mortality; higher rates of criminal  
          behavior and incarceration; increased dependence on public  



          ---------------------------
          <1>Why Students Drop Out of School:A Review of 25 Years of  
          Research. California Dropout Research Project Report 15. October  
          2008.










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          assistance; and are less likely to vote.<2>  The effects of  
          dropping out are detrimental not only to the individual student  
          but also to the state and its economy.  

          The California Dropout Research Project finds that over their  
          lifetimes, each cohort of dropouts costs California state and  
          local governments $9.5 billion in fiscal losses:
                 $3.1 billion in lost state and local tax revenues
                 $3.5 billion in health expenditures
                 $2.5 billion in crime expenditures
                 $400 million in welfare expenditures<3>

          Conversely, the California Dropout Research Project estimates  
          that if the high school dropout rate for a single year was  
          reduced by 30% the aggregate savings to state and local  
          governments would be $1.9 billion, and social gains would amount  
          to $13.9 billion.<4>

          While there is clearly a problem that needs to be addressed, it  
          is not clear that in its current form, this bill will yield the  
          desired outcome, and without further clarification,  
          implementation may be difficult. 

          The bill appears to be based on the assumption that that there  
          is a formal process of dropping out and that a student would  
          inform or give a clear indication to an administrator or a  
          counselor or teacher of his or her intent to dropout.  Because  
          there is no formal process by which a pupil drops out of high  
          school and because the bill does not specify what indicators  
          counselors or teachers will use to determine that a child  
          intends to drop out, the implementation of this bill may prove  
          challenging.  The most obvious factor that a teacher or an  
          administrator may use is the pupil's attendance record.  It is  
          not clear however, how many absences or truancies an  
          administrator, teacher or counselor will consider before  
          providing the acknowledgment form to the pupil.  Without any  
          further guidance, school staff would have to assume or guess  
          that a student intends to drop out in order to comply with the  
          ---------------------------
          <2> Ibid.
          <3>The Economic Losses from High School Dropouts in California.  
          The California Dropout Research Project Policy Brief 1. August  
          2007.
          <4> Ibid. 








                                                                  AB 374
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          provisions of this bill, and this could lead to improper  
          implementation.  Consequently, the information may not get to  
          the students that the bill intends to reach. 

          Under existing law, a parent or guardian having control of a  
          pupil is obligated to compel attendance of the pupil at school.   
          Parents who fail to meet that obligation can be prosecuted and  
          fined. The form that both the student and the parent are  
          required to sign is essentially consent that they are intending  
          not to comply with the compulsory education laws, and it is  
          uncertain what benefit this will yield.  

          Information regarding the consequences of dropping out and the  
          options for alternative education could be important information  
          for all students to receive.   Staff recommends  the bill be  
          amended to instead require the Superintendent of Public  
          Instruction to develop a notice that includes information  
          regarding the consequences of dropping out and alternative  
          education options for pupils as described in this bill.   
          Additionally, the bill should be amended to require the notice  
          be posted on the CDE's Internet Web site, authorize districts to  
          download it and encourage districts to distribute this notice to  
          all high school students. 

           Arguments in support  :  The American Federation of State, County  
          and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) writes, "A high school  
          education is an important factor to beginning a successful life.  
           The National High School Center reports high school drop-outs  
          are more likely to be unemployed, use public assistance, be  
          single parents, have children at a younger age, and earn  
          $260,000 less over a lifetime. AFSCME supports this bill in  
          hopes that the form will make potential drop-outs consider the  
          consequences of dropping out of high school."


           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
          California Teachers Association

           Opposition 
           
          None on file. 









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          Analysis Prepared by  :    Marisol Avi?a / ED. / (916) 319-2087