Attendance rates in the Long Beach Unified School District are approaching 97 percent and are up for each month so far this school year, while the number of suspensions has dropped by more than 30 percent.
The school district has implemented an attendance incentive program that provides additional funding to schools that meet schoolwide and districtwide targets, and the Board of Education adopted a resolution early this school year urging schools to build on their efforts to provide alternatives to suspensions. The resolution called for the use of multiple strategies such as conflict resolution, early intervention and the opportunity for students to learn appropriate behaviors.
The districtwide attendance rate so far this year is 96.6 percent, up a percentage point over the prior school year. Regular and prompt attendance at school is vital to raising student achievement, and higher attendance rates help the school district to receive more funding from the state. A 1 percent increase in attendance can mean as much as $4 million more in annual funding to LBUSD. Schools have seized upon the school district’s incentive program by recognizing students with certificates and other rewards for good attendance, and by working with students and parents to reach schoolwide attendance goals.
The number of suspensions this school year in LBUSD through December was 2,885, a decrease of 1,289 – or nearly 31 percent – compared to the same months during the prior school year. The school district has about 81,000 students. Some of the biggest decreases in suspensions were among African American and Latino students. The number of suspensions among African American students through December decreased by nearly 30 percent. The number of suspensions among Latino students decreased nearly 36 percent. White students saw a 24 percent decrease in suspensions over the same period.
“Thank you to our students and employees for working hard to increase our attendance rates and reduce suspensions,” said LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser. “Big thanks also go to parents for making sure that their children come to school ready to learn each day. Keep up the good work.”