BILL ANALYSIS SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION Gloria Romero, Chair 2009-2010 Regular Session BILL NO: AB 374 AUTHOR: Block AMENDED: June 1, 2009 FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: July 15, 2009 URGENCY: No CONSULTANT: Lynn Lorber SUBJECT : Consequences of dropping out notice. SUMMARY This bill requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to produce a notice to pupils about the consequences of dropping out of school before reaching 18 years of age or graduating from high school. BACKGROUND Current 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 school or continuation school or classes and for the full length of the schoolday. 2) Requires a parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of the pupil to send the pupil to school, as specified. 3) Establishes a process whereby a pupil who has been deemed a habitual truant (at least nine unexcused absences in one school year) is referred to a county or local school attendance review board (SARB), or to county probation if that county does not have a SARB, for the purposes of referring the pupil to community resources that address truancy issues. 4) Establishes a State SARB for the purpose of making recommendations on the needs of high-risk youth. As reported by the California Department of Education, the AB 374 Page 2 state's dropout rate for the 2006-07 school year was 24.2%, and the dropout rate for that time period for the Los Angeles Unified School District was 33.6%. AB 374 Page 3 ANALYSIS This bill requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to produce a notice to pupils about the consequences of dropping out of school before reaching 18 years of age or graduating from high school. Specifically, this bill: 1) Requires the consequences of dropping out notice to include, but is not limited to, all of the following: a) The potential consequences of dropping out include: i) Greater difficulty finding a job. ii) Reduced income and purchasing power. iii) Greater likelihood of engaging in criminal activity. iv) Greater likelihood of spending time in jail, prison, or both. v) Greater likelihood of receiving welfare, other forms of public assistance, or both. vi) Fewer choices about where to live. vii) Lesser likelihood of properly caring for and educating children. b) The right of a pupil to reenroll in school to complete the requirements for graduation from high school and the procedure for reenrollment. c) The availability of alternative educational services, including continuation school, independent study, adult education, community college, and the General Educational Development (GED) tests. 2) Requires the SPI to post the notice on the California Department of Education's website. STAFF COMMENTS 1) Will it make a difference ? Will posting a notice on the California Department of Education's (CDE's) website AB 374 Page 4 affect dropout rates? A prior version of this bill encouraged schools to download the notice from the CDE website and distribute it to pupils; however, that provision was removed due to cost pressure concerns. Research on dropout prevention recommends the following: a) Use data systems that support a realistic diagnosis of the number of pupils who drop out and that help identify individual pupils at high risk of dropping out. b) Assign adult advocates to pupils at risk of dropping out. c) Provide academic support and enrichment. d) Implement programs to improve pupils' classroom behavior and social skills. e) Personalize the learning environment and instructional process. f) Provide rigorous and relevant instruction to better engage pupils in learning and provide the skills needed to graduate and to serve them after they leave school. g) Ensure that both the social and academic needs of pupils are met prior to entry into high school. h) Address school-level conditions and the resources provided to schools. i) Provide fully-credentialed teachers. 2) Efforts in Chicago to reduce dropout rates . The Chicago Public Schools district implemented several options to help reduce the dropout rate, including adding seats in alternative high schools, making it easier for pupils to attend night school, and requiring potential dropouts and their parents to sign a consent form warning of the possible pitfalls of quitting school. That school AB 374 Page 5 district released data in 2005 showing a 1.7% reduction in the dropout rate from the prior school year. This improvement was not attributed to any specific intervention, but was based on all of the efforts undertaken by the district to reduce dropout rates. There is no data as to any effect a notice has as a stand-alone dropout prevention strategy. 3) Fiscal impact . According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis, this bill would impose one-time General Fund costs, likely in excess of $150,000, upon the CDE to develop and post the notice on its Internet website. In addition, there may be annual, minor absorbable General Fund costs to maintain and update the notice. However, the CDE believes the costs associated with this bill would be less than $150,000, as the State School Attendance Review Board can develop the form and CDE can post that form on its website for a minimal cost. SUPPORT American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees California Teachers Association Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities OPPOSITION None received.