BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1014


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          Date of Hearing:  April 22, 2015


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION


                              Patrick O'Donnell, Chair


          AB 1014  
          (Thurmond) - As Amended March 26, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Pupils:  truancy:  Our Children's Success-The Early  
          Intervention Attendance Grant Program


          SUMMARY:  Establishes the Our Children's Success - The Early  
          Intervention Attendance Grant Program for the purpose of helping  
          public schools resolve the attendance problems of pupils in  
          kindergarten through grade 3.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Specifies that the grant program shall be implemented upon the  
            appropriation of sufficient funding.


          2)Provides that a public school maintaining kindergarten through  
            grade 3 seeking to participate in the grant program may apply  
            to the California Department of Education (CDE) for a grant.   
            Requires an application submitted by a public school to  
            reflect a plan that includes, but is not necessarily limited  
            to, all of the following:


             a)   Establishment of a training program for key school  
               officials and attendance staff to identify pupils with  
               chronic attendance problems upon their second occurrence of  
               tardiness or absence in a school year, and the mailing of  








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               attendance letters to the pupil's home in a timely manner.


             b)   Establishment of a phone call outreach program,  
               including a minimum of two calls from a school official,  
               not limited to a recording, to follow up on those pupils  
               whose attendance problems continue during that school year  
               after the attendance letters are mailed.


             c)   Establishment of a parent advocate position or  
               positions, designated for ongoing follow-up with the pupil  
               and the parent throughout the school year to ensure the  
               pupil's continued consistent school attendance. The number  
               of these parent advocate positions may vary according to  
               the school's needs, resources, and the parent advocate's  
               ability to manage the workload.


             d)   Establishment of an outreach worker position or  
               positions whose primary job is assisting families with a  
               child or children who have ongoing chronic attendance  
               problems. The duties of an outreach worker include sending  
               letters, making phone calls and home visits, and helping to  
               connect the family to the appropriate local, state, or  
               federal programs in order to resolve issues that are  
               creating impediments to the child's consistent attendance  
               in school. The number of these outreach worker positions  
               can vary according to the school's needs, resources, and  
               the outreach worker's ability to manage the workload.


             e)   Determining that the applicant school's plan is  
               instituted, to the best of the school's ability, before a  
               pupil enters the school attendance review board (SARB)  
               process.


             f)   Establishment of a plan for teacher follow-up with  








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               pupils with chronic attendance problems to make up for lost  
               instructional time.


             g)   Establishment of a plan to track pupil attendance and  
               aggregate data on tardiness and attendance throughout the  
               school year to determine whether improvement has been made.


          3)Requires the CDE to give priority to applicant schools that  
            have prioritized pupil engagement in their local control and  
            accountability plans (LCAP).


          4)Specifies that the grant program established by this section  
            shall not be construed as a replacement of, or a substitution  
            for, the SARB.


          5)Appropriates an unspecified amount to the CDE for purposes of  
            implementing the Our Children's Success-The Early Intervention  
            Attendance Grant Program.  Expresses the intent of the  
            Legislature that the funds appropriated pursuant to this bill  
            be drawn from sources that may include, but are not  
            necessarily limited to, the General Fund, the Safe  
            Neighborhoods and Schools Fund established by Proposition 47  
            on the November 2014 statewide general election ballot,  
            federal and local government funds, and contributions from  
            nonprofit organizations and other private entities.





          EXISTING LAW:  



          1)Requires that each person between the ages of 6 and 18 years,  








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            not otherwise exempted, be subject to compulsory full-time  
            education and attend the public full-time day school or  
            continuation school or classes in which their parent or  
            guardian resides, and that each parent, guardian or other  
            person having control or charge of the pupil ensure that  
            pupil's enrollment and attendance.  (Education Code (EC)  
            Section 48200)

           

          2)Defines a "truant" as any pupil subject to compulsory  
            full-time education or to compulsory continuation education  
            who is absent from school without a 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.  (EC Section 48260)



          3)Requires a school district, upon a pupil's initial  
            classification as a truant, to notify the pupil's parent or  
            guardian and provide them with specified information.  (EC  
            Section 48260.5)

          4)Defines a "habitual truant" as any pupil who has been reported  
            as a truant three or more times per school year, where an  
            appropriate district officer or employee had made a  
            conscientious effort to hold at least one conference with a  
            parent and the pupil, after the filing of either a truancy  
            report to the attendance supervisor or district  
            superintendent.  Specifies that a habitual truant may be  
            referred to a SARB or a truancy mediation program.  (EC  
            Section 48262)



          5)Defines a "chronic truant" as any pupil subject to compulsory  
            full-time education or to compulsory continuation education  








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            who is absent from school without a valid excuse for 10  
            percent or more of the schooldays in one school year, from the  
            date of enrollment to the current date.  (EC Section 48263.6)

          6)Authorizes a SARB to be established at the local and county  
            level to provide intensive guidance and coordinated community  
            services to meet the needs of pupils with school attendance or  
            school behavior problems.  (EC Section 48320)  



          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          COMMENTS:  Truancy.  California's compulsory education law  
          requires all students between the ages of six and 18 to attend  
          school full-time and their parents and legal guardians to be  
          responsible for ensuring that children attend school.  A student  
          who is absent from school without a valid excuse for more than  
          30 minutes on three days in a school year is considered a  
          truant.  Parents or legal guardians are notified when their  
          children has been classified as a truant and are reminded of  
          their obligation to compel the attendance of pupils at school.   
          Upon a pupil's third truancy in a school year and following a  
          district's conscientious effort to hold a conference with the  
          parent or legal guardian of the pupil and the pupil, a pupil is  
          classified as a habitual truant and may be referred to a SARB or  
          to the local probation officer.  Upon a fourth truancy, students  
          and/or their parents or legal guardians may be fined.  In  
          2012-13, the CDE reported a truancy rate of 29.28%, with 1.9  
          million students out of a total enrollment of 6.2 million  
          considered truants.  


          According to the CDE, students who are chronically absent in  
          lower grades are much less likely to be proficient readers and  
          have higher levels of suspensions.  Chronic absence in the sixth  
          grade is the most predictive indicator that a student will not  
          graduate from high school.  








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          In 2013, the Attorney General's (AG's) office released a report  
          titled "In School and On Track" on truancy of elementary school  
          kids.  Calling it a crisis, the AG argues that truancy at the  
          elementary level has negative impacts on the students, who are  
          more likely to drop out of high school; on public safety, when  
          students become more likely to become involved with gangs,  
          substance abuse, and incarceration; on school districts, who  
          lose attendance dollars; and on the economy, due to lost  
          economic productivity and revenues.


          Purpose of the bill.  According to the author, this bill  
          attempts to improve student attendance while generating needed  
          revenue for schools, and creating brighter, long term outcomes  
          for California's youth.  Schools receive their funding based on  
          average daily attendance (ADA).  According to the AG's report,  
          school districts lost approximately $1.4 billion in the 2010-11  
          school year due to absences.  The author believes that early  
          intervention will not only improve student attendance, it will  
          be a good investment in increasing a school's ADA.


          This bill appropriates an unspecified amount of funds to  
          establish the Our Children's Success - The Early Intervention  
          Attendance Grant Program.  The grant program is intended to  
          provide outreach to pupils from kindergarten through grade 3.  A  
          school interested in receiving a grant must submit an  
          application to the CDE.  The application must include a plan  
          that includes, but is not limited to all of the following  
          components:


          a)Establishment of a training program for key school officials  
            and attendance staff to identify pupils with chronic  
            attendance problems upon their second occurrence of tardiness  
            or absence in a school year, and the mailing of attendance  
            letters to the pupil's home in a timely manner.








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          b)Establishment of a phone call outreach program, including a  
            minimum of two calls from a school official, not limited to a  
            recording, to follow up on those pupils whose attendance  
            problems continue during that school year after the attendance  
            letters are mailed.


          c)Establishment of a parent advocate position or positions,  
            designated for ongoing follow-up with the pupil and the parent  
            throughout the school year to ensure the pupil's continued  
            consistent school attendance. The number of these parent  
            advocate positions may vary according to the school's needs,  
            resources, and the parent advocate's ability to manage the  
            workload.


          d)Establishment of an outreach worker position or positions  
            whose primary job is assisting families with a child or  
            children who have ongoing chronic attendance problems. The  
            duties of an outreach worker include sending letters, making  
            phone calls and home visits, and helping to connect the family  
            to the appropriate local, state, or federal programs in order  
            to resolve issues that are creating impediments to the child's  
            consistent attendance in school. The number of these outreach  
            worker positions can vary according to the school's needs,  
            resources, and the outreach worker's ability to manage the  
            workload.


          e)Determining that the applicant school's plan is instituted, to  
            the best of the school's ability, before a pupil enters the  
            school attendance review board process.


          f)Establishment of a plan for teacher follow-up with pupils with  
            chronic attendance problems to make up for lost instructional  
            time.








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          g)Establishment of a plan to track pupil attendance and  
            aggregate data on tardiness and attendance throughout the  
            school year to determine whether improvement has been made.


          The plan's requirements.  The bill requires schools to submit a  
          plan.  However, the components of the plan are already specified  
          by the bill.  It is not clear what components schools are  
          required to develop.  Staff recommends an amendment to specify  
          that the components may be, rather than are required, to be part  
          of the plan.


          Some of the components of the plan are already required in  
          current law, including notification to parents by mail or phone  
          call, which takes place upon an initial classification as a  
          truant (tardy 30 minutes or absent without a valid excuse three  
          times).  Grant funds will be used for an outreach worker, whose  
          job isn't just to send letters or make phone calls, but also to  
          make home visits and help connect families with social services  
          that may be the cause(s) of attendance problems.  This is  
          similar to the role of SARBs, which are established by a county  
          superintendent of schools or a school district comprised of  
          representatives of school districts, social services agencies,  
          and law enforcement agencies to evaluate and address a student's  
          attendance problems.  Students are typically referred to SARBs  
          after the third classification as a truant (9 tardies or  
          absences). The outreach worker established by this bill would  
          start the intervention earlier.      


          It is not clear what the difference is between the outreach  
          worker and the parent advocate.  It is also unclear whether the  
          parent advocate is a parent or a paid staff position.  If it is  
          a paid staff position, the author may wish to incorporate the  
          parent advocate duties with the outreach workers' duties.  If  
          it's a parent, the author may wish to consider confidentiality  








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          issues and providing training to parents.


          According to the author, the intent of the bill is to outreach  
          to kids at an early age - between kindergarten through grade 3 -  
          to prevent long-term absentee problems.  Staff recommends an  
          amendment to clarify that the funds shall be used for early  
          intervention for pupils in kindergarten through grade 3.  


          Selection criteria. The criteria CDE is required to use to  
          select grantees is unclear.  The bill specifies that the CDE is  
          to give priority to applicants that have prioritized pupil  
          engagement in their LCAP.  It is not clear how that will be  
          determined.  The local control funding formula funds can be used  
          for any purpose in accordance with the LCAP, which is developed  
          locally to meet the needs of each district.  The LCAP is  
          required to meet eight state priorities.  One of the priorities  
          is "pupil engagement," as measured by factors such as school  
          attendance rate and chronic absenteeism rate.  It is not clear  
          how CDE will determine whether pupil engagement is a higher  
          priority in one school's LCAP over another.  Staff recommends  
          eliminating this criterion.


          Should the grant program be a pilot?  Staff recommends  
          establishing this grant program as a pilot in order to be able  
          to gauge the impact of the early intervention strategies, with  
          the following components:


             1)   Establish a six-year pilot with a three year minimum  
               grant.


             2)   Require selection of a diversity of applicant schools in  
               urban, rural and suburban areas.










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             3)   Require selection of applicant schools in each region  
               that have the highest truancy rates.


             4)   Require schools to submit a report to the CDE.


             5)   Require CDE to submit a report to the Legislature.   


          Arguments in support.  According to the author, this bill is  
          modeled after an attendance program established by the Berkeley  
          Unified School District (BUSD), which spent $100,000 in the  
          first year and saw an increase of $500,000 in ADA the following  
          year.  The author states, "The school district successfully  
          brought the students back into the classroom, while at the same  
          time helping their families address the challenges that lead to  
          the students' attendance problems.  Attendance levels at BUSD  
          have remained high due to the school district's focus on  
          holistic solutions to the complex set of problems that cause  
          children to miss school regularly.  Schools and school districts  
          across the country are demonstrating the value of addressing  
          student attendance prior to the point of delinquency.  Early  
          intervention and a broad set of tools is the best way to get  
          children back into the classroom consistently."  


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support




          Children Now









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          Opposition


          None on file




          Analysis Prepared by:Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087