Skip to contentSkip to navigation

Get the latest information about Spring 2022 Updates/COVID-19. Before coming to campus, take the COVID-19 Daily Screening.

Standard 6

Assessment and Evaluation of Barriers for Underachieving Learners

Candidates demonstrate knowledge and skills pertaining to the assessment and amelioration of barriers to learning such as emotional, familial, educational, institutional, and community related factors, that facilitate an environment for underachievement or school failure. Candidates also demonstrate understanding and ability to apply alternative education pathways that may be appropriate for pupils experiencing difficulties in the regular school setting.   Among the various alternatives might include the GED, California High School Proficiency Examination, adult education, employment preparation, continuation schools, opportunity classes, community day centers, County Alternative Education Programs, independent study programs, special education programs, pregnant minor programs, parenting programs, Regional Occupational Programs and Centers, charter schools, summer school and community college.


PPS credential candidates seeking the additional specialization in Child Welfare and Attendance demonstrate the ability to conduct assessment of student attendance, including understanding of the emotional, familial, educational, institutional and community factors that contribute to underachievement or school failure. Candidates also learn to design and implement intervention strategies to ameliorate barriers to school attendance and achievement. The knowledge and skills required for candidates seeking this additional specialization are addressed through courses in the MSW and PPS programs. Matrix 6-1 depicts the specific content and MSW courses which provide it.

Assessment of attendance

The foundation knowledge base for understanding the wide range of factors contributing to pupil attendance problems is provided in the Human Behavior in the Social Environment sequence. HBSE: A Multi Systems Approach (S Wrk 212) and HBSE: Cultural Diversity and Oppression (S Wrk 213) provide foundation content on the myriad of bio psychosocial and cultural factors that affect behavior and functioning, including attendance in schools. One example is found in the S Wrk 213 course calendar in the topic of LGBTQ: Identity and Oppression.

S Wrk 220 and S Wrk 221, Foundations for Social Work Practice I and II, provide the knowledge and skills for the advanced, multi systems practice concentration. Candidates are oriented to a generalist model for problem solving at all systems levels. Specific knowledge and skills for multidimensional assessment with individuals, families, groups and larger systems are taught. S Wrk 224, Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals, provides additional content on assessment of individuals. Skills for assessing the wide range of factors that contribute to problems with individual functioning are covered. Skills for conducting effective assessments are also examined, including establishing rapport, maintaining focus, triage, evaluation of impinging environments such as home, school and community, and conducting effective home visits and parent outreach.

More specialized examination of the various factors that interfere with school attendance takes place in both of the School Social Work/CWA courses, S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275. Course lectures, readings, discussions and assignments address the multitude of personal, cultural, social, psychological and environmental factors that affect school attendance. This content includes consideration of variables such as health, mental health, family constellation, parenting skills, family history, cultural norms and expectations and social relationships. Candidates are required to complete an Attendance Assessment as one of the course requirements for S Wrk 274. It is a multi dimensional assessment of the factors influencing attendance for a pupil from their internship that has been referred for services due to an attendance problem. The S Wrk 274 Final Exam also requires the demonstration of understanding regarding the multiple factors that influence the assessment of attendance problems.

S Wrk 275, Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools II, examines a wide range of target groups for underachievement. These groups include school-age parents, homeless youth, juvenile delinquents, youth in foster care, substance using/abusing youth, and LGBTQ youth (see course content on Identifying andWorking with Students at Risk).

The examination of these at-risk groups, combined with knowledge of barriers to attendance and achievement related to pupil rights, special education, and equal educational opportunity gained in S Wrk 274, provides candidates with the understanding needed to work effectively with underachieving youth. Candidates are explicitly taught about the importance of parental knowledge and involvement in the assessment and amelioration of problems with attendance and/or underachievement.

The understanding of factors influencing school attendance is applied in the second year field practicum in the schools, S Wrk 282/283. Candidates complete a total of 600 hours of supervised field instruction, including a minimum of 150 hours in CWA related assignments. Specific assignments to develop skills in the assessment of attendance and underachievement are outlined in the PPS learning agreement addendum. Many of these assignments are listed under PPS competency #6, Candidate demonstrates skillin assessment and   intervention with attendance problems and the appropriate use of alternatives to regular school attendance.

These assignments include identifying mitigating factors which interfere with attendance, such as babysitting younger siblings, working, child abuse and neglect, school failure, etc. Candidates work with a diverse group of students and parents and develop a wide range of skills for effective assessment and intervention.

Skills for intervention to ameliorate barriers to learning

PPS candidates also develop knowledge and skills for designing and implementing a wide range of intervention strategies to address school attendance problems and underachievement. The advanced, multi systems practice concentration teaches specific practice strategies for each systems level: individual; family; groups; organizations; and, communities. Thus, candidates acquire knowledge and skills for parent involvement and parenting skills in S Wrk 227, Advanced Social Work Practice with Couples and Families. Similarly, they learn strategies for working effectively with staff development through S Wrk 246, Social Work Practice with Formal Organizations. Attention to cultural and linguistic factors is infused throughout the advanced, multi systems practice concentration.

Both of the School Social Work/CWA courses, S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275, provide the specialized knowledge and practice skills for child welfare and attendance intervention. For example, S Wrk 275 builds on assessment content from S Wrk 274 and addresses Assessment and Interventions to AddressChild Welfare and Attendance Concerns. Specific content is presented in readings, lecture, and class discussions on traditional as well as proven strategies for improving attendance and achievement, including grade reduction, parent involvement, SARB, alternative educational pathways and academic supports. The following are some of the intervention strategies examined: peer mediation and conflict resolution; staff development; dropout prevention; parental involvement; crisis intervention; social skills training; and, groups. In S Wrk 274, alternative educational pathways are addressed in course readings and discussions. Candidates are exposed to the range of educational options available to pupils and are oriented to understanding that these options may be a better “fit” for pupils who are unsuccessful in the traditional school setting. Candidates also gain knowledge of linking pupils and families to needed resources.

Candidates gain direct practice experience in designing and implementing attendance intervention in the school field practicum, S Wrk 282/283. For example, the PPS learning agreement addendum includes assignments under competency #6, Candidate demonstrates skill in assessment and   intervention with attendance problems and the appropriate use of alternatives to regular school attendance.

They are required to complete a minimum of 150 clock hours in child welfare and attendance and participate in various attendance related learning assignments such as: assessing pupils and families with attendance problems; providing individual and group intervention around attendance problems; consultation and in-service to staff and parents regarding attendance. Insurance that such attendance related assignments are given to credential candidates is provided in the development and monitoring of the field placement learning agreement and the PPS learning agreement addendum. Demonstration of candidate competence in designing and implementing interventions to ameliorate learning barriers is provided in the written PPS evaluation of student performance at the end of each semester.

Department of Social Work Education PPS Credential Program








School Social Work


Assessment and Evaluation of Barriers for Underachieving Learners

200, 203

212, 213

220, 221 224, 225 227, 246 247


260, 261 292 298/299

274 275

274 275

Factors to consider:








Assessment of attendance


212, 213

220, 221,224

282, 283



274 275

Design and implement interventions to ameliorate learning barriers



220, 221 224, 225 227, 246 247

282, 283



274 275

Back to Top