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San Diego School Attendance Rates Improve

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson gave the San Diego Unified School District a passing grade today for being the only big school district statewide to improve attendance.

San Diego schools were among 11 districts statewide that were called models for improving attendance, but the SDUSD was the only large urban school district.

Ninety-six percent of students are in class each day or have an excused absence, up from about 95 percent in the 2009-10 school year, according to Torlakson.

"While we need to address problems with truancy, we cannot overlook students and families that may need support due to health or emotional problems, or who may simply not realize the importance of regular school attendance, even in kindergarten," Torlakson said at a news conference.

The district has a School Attendance Review Board, new computer software that tracks absenteeism so district staff can offer early intervention, and dropout prevention programs.

"We can't teach students if they're not in class," said Bill Kowba, SDUSD superintendent. "This has been a total effort among staff and the community to do everything possible to make sure kids are in school."

State funding of public schools is dependent on attendance.

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