How Attendance Centers are Preventing Drop Outs
Learn about Sacramento's Attendance Centers that are helping keep kids off the streets and in school.
Rob: It’s the middle of a week day afternoon and these students just got caught skipping school.
Truancy is often seen as a precursor to dropping out and criminal activity. 2006 statistic shows a spike in crimes like burglary and vandalism within a half mile of school.
Russ: The criminal costs are actually sizeable, not so much just in terms of law enforcement and incarceration stuff, but the losses to the community.
Rob: So what happens to a truant student?
Cop: First address we're going to is the location at the telegram.
Rob: In the past, getting caught meant the scare of it goes along with a trip in a police car than most likely a stay in detention. But educators like Marisa Wilson have learned, when a student skips, it’s sometimes a symptom of a deeper problem.
Marisa: I think truancy is not truancy. There usually is an underlying reason that the kids are not making it to school.
Rob: Today, if a student gets pick up for truancy in Sacramento they come here, to the Attendance Center.
There are three centers in Sacramento, operated through the partnership between the Sacramento city and the TOMA school districts, the city of Sacramento, and the Sacramento police department.
Tera: Our officers at SacPD will pick up kids that are truant and they’ll bring them to our attendance center. They go through an intake process with one of our staff members. Pulls their records and then prepares them to go see the counselor.
Rob: The counselors have a talk with the students. Sometimes they find it’s just the first offense, and it’s a small punishment and back to class. But other times, they uncover something more.
Marisa: It could be something out of their control that prevents them back.
Rob: Serious issues vary from drugs to bullying or gangs. And sometimes, the problems at home.
Tera: A lot of student, just in this economy, they’re definitely feeling the pressure of the economy. Parents are losing houses, losing jobs. So the kids definitely feel that pressure and stress. And they bring all that to school with them.
Jesse: The more we can teach adolescent about how to regulate emotions, how to communicate effectively, how to handle stress, how to be mindful in this moment right now. I believe the more successful they're going to be in navigating these challenges.
Rob: What's unique about the attendance centers is they're intervening right at the time these student’s lives when they're probably at the highest risk of dropping out.
Tera: We monitor their attendance, ongoing, for months until they graduate or until the end of the school year.
Cynthia: If you go there and you feel like nobody likes you, maybe you get harass when you're walking down the hall, the teacher ignores or calls on you when you're not really prepared to answer, you're not going to want to go back day after day. Who would?
Serena: They make you feel like welcome, they don’t make you feel bad about why you're here.
Cynthia: A lot of children, when they go to an adult, they get a reaction or a lecture or a scolding or a punishment, so they turn to their peers. And their peers don’t always have better social skills than they do.
Rob: But even with their success, each year, the attendance centers are put on the chopping block when it comes to funding.
Marisa: The grant funds for one year at a time. So every year we have to re-apply again for the grant.
Tera: They build this relationship with the counselor and the counselor removed from us.
Rob: Tim is an attendance center success story. He recently went to the city council to explain why the centers should continue to be funded.
Tim: I was having some difficulties with my stepfather at home, and they brought me to the attendance center for cutting classes. It was difficult for me to focus on school with things going on at home. I did finish the school year with at least 2.3 and I'm throwing a 3.6 GPA. I'm able to cope with things a lot better than I was before.
Kevin: Tim, awesome, thanks for sharing your story and I think we should give him a round of applause. Thanks Tim.
Rob: Tim’s speech helps secure funding for the rest of the year. His story is just part of what's convincing people the program is working.
Serena: They're there for us to talk and to do homework or just to help us out.
Marisa: From the minute I open the door in the morning until I go home, they come by and they wanted to keep us up to date on what's going on with them. Or they want to tell us something special that happened to them.
Emily: It was having somebody there and just showing that they care, it means a lot.
Marisa: For me, the satisfaction is the smile that sparkle in your eye that they're succeeding. Hey I can do this.
How Attendance Centers are Preventing Drop Outs
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