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Shafter schools facing uphill battle in absenteeism, performance

With the Covid-19 epidemic seemingly in the past, the challenge of getting students performing in pre-covid form is a difficult one that is going to take some time to accomplish. This is particularly a challenge with the schools, with most studies showing a majority of California schools having a problem with student absenteeism.

During the pandemic, there was online learning and classes, which was tough enough. With the requirements of getting material taught and ensuring students would regularly attend classes, it was a tough job.

With schools back to “normal,” there are still challenges that schools face to get their students back in shape, educationally.

Shafter schools are no different. On average, the Richland School District’s schools have 54% of students with chronic absenteeism. These are students who are absent 10 or more days during the year. This is also resulting in challenges in performance in the classroom.

According to the California Dashboard, based on mandatory reporting to the state from the district, the Shafter schools are behind the state average when it comes to English and math progress. Thirteen percent of Richland students are meeting the state standard when it comes to English. In math, the situation looks a little brighter, with 34% of students meeting the standard.

The state provided schools with covid-19 funds that are to be used to help in their drive to get their students back on track academically. Richland School District received $11.4 million in funds, with about $4.3 million of it spent so far. These funds are good until the end of 2024. They are to be used, for example, on extra teachers or additional tutoring for students, in a variety of programs that are aimed at allowing students to recover from the pandemic and get them on a higher level of learning.

“I really like the teachers and hope that the district does something to get the kids back on the right track,” commented Maria Alonzo Uribe, who has two grandchildren who go to Richland schools. “It seems that it is taking a long time for the kids to get caught back up. I think that they can do something to help the kids out.”

Wasco schools are in a similar situation, with a high percentage of absenteeism and below state standards in both English and math. They are faring better in the percentages, but are still below the standard. They have shown an improvement over previous years in performance.

In Shafter, there is a school that has seen its numbers stabilize in their work toward meeting state standards. GROW Academy has a relatively low 29% absenteeism rate, with over 52% of their students meeting standards in math. In English, they are at a 43% mark.

Richland leaders he previously said they have plans this year to implement other programs that are aimed at improving their students’ progress and get them on the right track after the challenge of the past couple of years, though several attempts to contact the Richland School District for comment have gone unanswered.


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