From 2021 to 2023, CCEE collaborated with Turnaround for Children (now the Center for Whole-Child Education) to support a network with Butte County Office of Education (BCOE) and Palermo Union Elementary School District (PUESD) to address chronic absenteeism. The collaborative effort, known as the Whole-Child Improvement Network (WCIN), employed a science-of-learning approach, whole-child practices, and equity considerations. The report highlights lessons learned, challenges faced, and implications for the State System of Support. The overall aim is to integrate whole-child design into California’s educational support system, particularly within the Differentiated Assistance (DA) framework. Recommendations are provided for county offices of education (COEs) seeking to adopt similar whole-child-aligned approaches for continuous improvement.

Key Takeaways:

  • Collaborative Whole-Child Approach: BCOE and Turnaround for Children collaborated with PUESD to address chronic absenteeism through a year-long Whole-Child Improvement Network. This collaborative approach involved school teams, including principals, teachers, support staff, and the superintendent, focusing on the science of learning, whole-child practices, and equity considerations.
  • Structural Challenges in DA Process: The report highlights structural challenges within the State System of Support, particularly the DA process, which hinder effective implementation of continuous improvement initiatives. These challenges include the tension between short-term Dashboard results and long-term capacity building, limited communication between COEs and LEAs, and logistical issues with the Dashboard timeline.
  • Need for Extended Timeframe: Successful improvement requires intentional, sustained efforts, which contrasts with the current DA structure that expects rapid change. While the DA process has been extended from one to two years, further time is needed for meaningful improvement.
  • Whole-Child Education Integration: Despite the widespread use of “whole-child education” terminology in the state, there is a lack of integration within the State System of Support and the DA Process. The report emphasizes the need for shared understanding and practical translation of whole-child principles for addressing Dashboard findings.
  • Recommendations for COEs: The report offers recommendations for COEs seeking to adopt a whole-child aligned approach to continuous improvement. These recommendations include involving diverse stakeholders, allocating sufficient learning time, grounding in a shared understanding of whole-child design, and focusing on capacity building for improvement.

Call to Action:

Educational leaders, superintendents, and administrators, take a proactive step towards maximizing positive pupil outcomes and effectively utilizing allocated funds. Embrace the lessons from the collaborative effort between BCOE, Turnaround for Children, and PUESD. By adopting a whole-child approach to address persistent challenges such as chronic absenteeism, you can drive meaningful change within your school district. Explore the comprehensive report’s insights, delve into the actionable recommendations for county offices of education, and take action to maximize student engagement and attendance. Together, let’s integrate whole-child design into California’s State System of Support and pave the way for a more equitable and impactful education system.

This project was supported through CCEE’s legislative requirement to provide support to LEAs to maximize positive pupil outcomes and most effectively use funds allocated pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 43521 (Section 8 of AB 86, Chapter 10, Statutes of 2021).