The 2019 New Mexico legislation session ended with House Bill 236 completing its way through the legislative process and passing the full House and Senate with unanimous support. It now awaits the governor's signature.
This bill represents roughly three years of work and a great collaboration with Rep. Patricio Ruiloba and staff from the Legislative Education Study Committee, Public Education Department, and Children Youth and Families Division.
Originally carried during the 2018 legislative session, the updated bill recommends that the state shift its approach to school attendance from a focus on truancy to a more supportive approach that uses chronic absenteeism as the key metric for tracking student attendance.
Chronic absence or missing ten percent or more of the school year for any reason, is a research-informed definition that has been shown to be strongly linked to lower academic outcomes and lower graduation rates. This contrasts with “habitual truancy,” which is defined as the accumulation of ten or more unexcused absences during a school year.
The bill also recommends a new approach to identifying students who are at risk of becoming chronically absent, as well as those who are already chronically absent, to develop more targeted prevention and intervention strategies to keep students on track.
Many recommendations came from Mission: Graduate’s High School Graduation Network. Angelo Gonzales, United Way of Central New Mexico’s Chief Strategy Officer served as an expert witness supporting the bill during this year’s Legislative session.
Working to Increase attendance and engagement by students is one of Mission: Graduate’s strategies to increasing graduation rates.