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Truancy Rising In California; Worst Among Low-Income Students, Minorities

A new report says the truancy rate in California elementary schools is rising – and is especially high among low-income students and minorities.

The report from the California Department of Justice estimates that more than a quarter-million elementary students were “chronically absent” last school year – missing class at least 10 percent of the time. That’s about 7.5 percent of all K-through-6th graders.

About 40,000 students missed twice that much – and of that group, nearly 90 percent are low-income. African-American children are chronically truant at nearly four times the rate of white kids.

The report also says the state’s overall elementary school truancy rate rose by more than one percent from the 2011-12 school year to 2012-13.

Attorney General Kamala Harris says the package of bills she sponsored this year would help reduce truancy. The package includes provisions to help the state more accurately measure truancy – and report outcomes from truancy interventions. The bills passed the Legislature and await Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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