The Long Beach Unified School District is one of 20 honorees designated as models of attendance improvement by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
The Model School Attendance Review Boards (SARB) Award honors school systems that demonstrate innovative and effective practices to reduce absenteeism. This year’s honor holds greater significance after the disruption of in-person attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2019-20 school year. The winners include 19 school districts and one county office of education.
“These honorees created exemplary plans and worked hard to follow through on them to help students stay engaged in their education, all during the unprecedented closure of our schools due to a global pandemic,” Thurmond said. “Many of these same great attendance strategies will also be crucial for student success as even more schools reopen for safe in-person attendance.”
LBUSD and its model SARB chairperson Claudia Sosa-Valderrama were recognized for focusing on quality interactions with families and students to promote improved distance learning attendance. Sosa-Valderrama is director of Student Support Services.
The district’s SARB members, who are part of the LBUSD Student Support Services department, looked at students’ and families’ unique needs and provided personalized support to remove attendance barriers.
The school district implemented several strategies such as assigning a staff member to follow up with each referred family to provide materials, work assignments and links to community resources. The staff also connected with community partners to ensure that families have access to timely and quality services.
All 2021 Model SARB Award winners implemented Learning Continuity and Attendance Plans that focused on four approaches to meet the needs of students during distance learning. These approaches included shifting staff roles and responsibilities to meet the needs of distance learning students; supporting virtual attendance of pupils with unique needs; providing for the mental health and well-being of students during distance learning; and pupil and family engagement and outreach.
The Model SARBs will serve as mentors to other school districts, and help them to develop their own strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism.