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NCJ Number: 204743 Find in a Library
Title: Reducing Chronic Absenteeism: An Assessment of an Early Truancy Initiative
Journal: Crime & Delinquency  Volume:50  Issue:2  Dated:April 2004  Pages:214-234
Author(s): Cynthia Perez McCluskey; Timothy S. Bynum; Justin W. Patchin
Date Published: April 2004
Page Count: 21
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article presents an assessment of an initiative designed to combat school truancy among elementary students with chronic absenteeism problems.
Abstract: Although chronic truancy among elementary students has been linked with deleterious outcomes in adolescence, almost no research has focused on effective ways to reduce truancy problems. In fact, since the mid-1970’s the juvenile justice system has shifted its focus away from juvenile status offenses, such as truancy, and toward more serious juvenile index crimes. As such, it has been left up to parents, communities, and schools to address the problem of school truancy. Growing concerns over truancy and its related problems led a midwestern city to collaborate on a community initiative developed to assist families of chronic truants. Following community meetings with national Weed and Seed representatives and local community stakeholders, a small pilot truancy program was implemented during the spring of the 1998-1999 school year. The program recruited a community policing officer and a principal at an elementary school to work with 20 families of chronic truants. Although an evaluation was not conducted, the pilot program was considered effective and was extended to two other target schools. In order to assess the programs’ effectiveness at reducing truancy, school and individual data were gathered from local school districts and from the evaluation unit for the 1999-2000 school year. Individual level data included background information, demographic information, and detailed attendance information. Results of statistical analyses suggested that, at the aggregate level, the percentage of students with chronic absences decreased in each school during the 1999-2000 school year when the truancy program was implemented. To assess program effectiveness among individual students, a pre- and post-intervention analysis was conducted in which student attendance was analyzed before and after the intervention program. Results indicated that students missed an average of 25 percent of school days prior to referral to the attendance officer, but missed fewer than 19 percent of school days following intervention. Overall, the findings suggest that the truancy program was effective in reducing the truancy of chronically absent elementary school students. The findings suggest that two relatively inexpensive interventions significantly cut attendance problems: a letter to the parents informing them of their child’s attendance problems and a visit by the school attendance officer. Tables, notes, references
Main Term(s): Program evaluation; Truancy
Index Term(s): School discipline; Schools
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