California Truancy Related to Student Poverty, School Safety

A survey of California truancy rates found students were more likely to attend school if they felt safe and have a teacher or adult who cares about them at school.

A new survey found truancy rates in California were closely related to students dealing with poverty and safety issues.

The survey, released June 11, was done by University of California Davis Assistant Professor of Education Ken Gee and Doctorial Candidate of Education Kelsey Krausen. The authors examined four versions of the California Healthy Kids Survey given to middle and high school students between 2006 and 2010.

The results showed nearly two million students in California, or about 30 percent of the student population, skipped school. Truancy rates are about 50 percent higher among low income and minority students.

The authors said getting students to feel safer and more connected to their schools may improve attendance at poverty-stricken schools.

Additional findings included a 28 percent increase in truancy from students who feared getting into fights and a 10 percent lower truancy rate from students who reported having a teacher or adult at the school that cared about them.

Among the reasons listed for students skipping school were mental and physical health issues, transportation problems, unstable housing, bullying and other safety issues, according to

California requires education agencies to set annual goals in their Local Control and Accountability Plans to reduce chronic absence.

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