Declining Attendance Rates

Prior to Covid-19 hitting the United States, attendance within the SBUSD was a struggle for most of the schools within our district.  According to, attendance over the past four years has been on a gradual decline.  

School year  Total enrollment      Ave. Daily Attend.​% attendance% absent%

2016-2017        15,188                           13,058                       86.5                    13.5

2017-2018        15,042                           12,850                       85.4                    14.6 

2018-2019        14,801                           12,603                       85.1                    ​14.9

While the numbers don’t look horrific, they do demonstrate that something is keeping our children from attending.  It would be interesting to parse through these numbers to see what number of these are sick, truant, or a familial excuse for the absences. 

The average for the academic year of 2018-2019 shows that 15 students out of every 100 are absent from school. Some teachers do mark students absent if they arrive past the first 10 minutes so this doesn’t necessarily take into account students arriving very late. 

Taking the last comparison of districts of similar size nearby, we compared these numbers to those of the Conejo Valley Unified School District.

School year  Total enrollment      Ave. Daily            attendance%       absent%

2016-2017        19,472                    18,257                     93.0                    7.0

2017-2018        19,240                    18,102                     94.0                    6.0 

2018-2019        19,011                    17,729                      93.0                   ​ 7.0

Our district should analyze what districts around the region and across the country are doing to ensure high attendance rates. It could mean greater consequences for higher absences or perhaps the issue should be studied more proactively. So much is missed when students are absent.  Not only do students fall behind in their schoolwork but the sense of community is lost for the students with excessive absences. 

Our teachers are doing a great job engaging our students.  Some of our school principals stand outside and greet the students as they walk in each day.  It sets a tone for engagement for the students and creates a community that students feel safe and appreciated.  This is a simple step that makes the school administration more accessible.  One school in Rochester, New York describes their approach of pairing high expectations in academics with high emotional support.  

We think the school district, school administrations, as well as teachers, can all have a hand in ensuring better attendance. Our students have a lot to say about their school. We could stand to learn more about what they experience at school and work on ways to make school a safe place to have a voice and to feel heard.

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