GGUSD Board of Education Adopts Resolution Opposing State’s Accountability System

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At its meeting on June 6, the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Education adopted Resolution No. 23 opposing the state’s use of COVID-19 absences in Chronic Absenteeism rates, as well as student subgroup eligibility criteria that unfairly included 24 of the 32 GGUSD schools that were identified on the state’s ATSI (Additional Targeted Support & Improvement) list. Schools in ATSI are required to develop and implement plans and interventions responsive to student needs based on the subgroup identified for action.

According to Resolution No. 23, the exponential increase of ATSI schools in GGUSD is a trend that can be seen across the county and state.  This year, 32 of GGUSD’s 67 schools or 48% were placed on the state’s ATSI list compared to 6% in 2020-21. Similarly, in Orange County 55.3% of schools were placed in ATSI this year compared to 3.7% in 2020-21 and in California 62.4% of schools were placed in ATSI this year compared to 10.2% in 2020-21. The exponential increase is due to the inclusion of COVID-19 absences in Chronic Absenteeism rates as well as the unreasonable eligibility criteria with schools being overidentified based on data representing small subgroups or subgroups having fewer than three indicators.

To be identified for ATSI, a school’s Dashboard must include: 1) a student group with all indicators red; 2) a student group with all indicators red, but one indicator with any other color, or 3) a student group with five or more indicators with the majority red. One of the five indicators, chronic absenteeism, includes both excused and unexcused absences from 2021-2022 that took place during the height of the pandemic, resulting in an extremely high number of red indicators in this category. If COVID-19 absences are removed, 21 of the 32 GGUSD schools identified for ATSI would not be eligible for ATSI.

Excused absences due to COVID-19 should be excluded from the state’s Chronic Absenteeism rates because families were simply following state and county isolation and quarantine mandates. The impact of COVID-19 requirements was exacerbated for high-poverty families living in closer quarters where the required quarantine was 20 days due to inability to isolate.

“GGUSD school administrators do not need to waste unnecessary time and resources on burdensome paperwork required by ATSI for schools that should not be in ATSI in the first place,” said Board of Education President Walter Muneton. "In GGUSD, our administrators are keenly aware of their data, and are working on a daily basis to implement meaningful interventions and supports that address actual student need.” 

In addition to unfairly placing 24 of schools in ATSI, the state’s failure to exclude COVID-19 excused absences from its Chronic Absenteeism rates also unfairly denied 8 GGUSD elementary schools from receiving the CA Distinguished Schools Award.  At its March 21 meeting, the GGUSD Board of Education approved Resolution No. 22 recognizing all 10 of its CA Distinguished Schools including the 8 that were unfairly denied the award by the state. On May 19, 8 GGUSD parents provided public comment during the State Board of Education meeting expressing their disappointment in this unfair practice that punished their schools which earned the CA Distinguished School award by all other accounts outside of COVID-19 absences.

In addition to opposing the inclusion of COVID-19 absences in Chronic Absenteeism data, Resolution No. 23 also opposed the small subgroups, representing a miniscule percentage of the school’s population that are used to trigger ATSI status.

Resolution No. 23 urges the CDE to exclude excused absences from its chronic absenteeism data and to further examine the subgroup eligibility criteria.  The Resolution states that the GGUSD Board of Education will only acknowledge and address 8 of its 32 schools placed in ATSI.