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Truancy: Community-based Positive Behavior Strategies for keeping Adolescents in School . By Amanda Meiers. Learner Objectives. Participants in this seminar will be able to: Describe and identify the precursors of truant behavior

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Truancy community based positive behavior strategies for keeping adolescents in school l.jpg

Truancy: Community-based Positive Behavior Strategies for keeping Adolescents in School

By Amanda Meiers


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Learner Objectives

Participants in this seminar will be able to:

  • Describe and identify the precursors of truant behavior

  • List the 5 distinct steps a community should take the reduce truancy, as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice

  • Identify the ways in which teachers can work with parents and their community to get chronically truant students back into a regular school attendance


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Our agendaPlease refer to the outline provided on page 2 of your study guide for a description of today’s activities.


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Keeping Trevor in school

  • Trevor is one of a growing number of adolescents who has lost interest in school. At 12, he began making excuses like “I don't do well in school, so why bother?” and “School’s a waste of my time.” In time, these passive excuses became filled with anger and more frequent. Now, Trevor’s mother is overwhelmed with her son’s behavior. How can she work with the school, the community, and Trevor to keep his attendance up?


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What is Truancy?

  • Truancy is defined as a chronic pattern of unexcused absence from school.

  • Truancy is a major rule violation in all districts. Criminal charges may be brought against both the parents and adolescent children for chronic violations.

  • Truancy is a problem that effects all areas of the school building. However, research has found that students are more likely to skip a class such as reading or math, although they agree that these are the most important subjects for school success. (Reid, K. 1999)


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How Prevalent is Truancy?

“Every day, hundreds of thousands of youth

are absent from school. Many are absent

without an excuse and deemed truant.

Although national data on truancy rates

are not available (in part because no uniform

definition of truancy exists), many

large cities report staggering rates of truancy

and chronic absenteeism. Some

large cities report that unexcused absences

can number in the thousands on certain days (Heaviside et al., 1998).”

(U.S. Department of Justice, 1996)


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Why is School Attendance so Important?

Research shows that students who are chronically truant ore more likely to drop out of school , become a gang member, and be unemployed later in life. (Bimler & Kirkland,2001 and Reid, K.,2000)

Of those who are employed, high school drop outs earn significantly less than their diploma holding peers. By attending school each day, students are sheltered from the dangerous neighborhoods they may live in. So why do students chose to skip school? First, they may be avoiding a potentially dangerous or difficult situation. Perhaps they are struggling with their schoolwork, and in turn overwhelmed with the academic demands of school. Or perhaps they are skipping school to send out a signal that they are physiologically distressed. Every child who skips school needs encouragement from their parents, teachers, and community to get back on track.


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Glossary

Truancy=a chronic pattern of unexcused absence from school.

Unexcused absence= Although the exact definition varies from district to district, an unexcused absence usually means that the school did not receive a phone call or a note from the students parents. In some districts, after a certain number of consecutive absences (often 3), students are required to obtain a doctor’s note.

Excessive absences= Many districts use a percentage of class time missed to define “excessive” absences. This may range between 10 and 30%, depending on the district. In some districts, all absences and class time missed count. In others, tardiness, suspensions, or excused absences may be excluded in determining this percentage.


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(Reid, K. 1999)


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Behavioral Problems Related to Truancy few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

How to Identify Truant Students

Attendance data is the primary method in which truant students are identified.

  • Students may display evidence of related problems, such as:

    • Poor grades

    • Negative outlook on school

    • Depression

    • Low self-esteem

    • Anxiety (social, assessment based, or otherwise)


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Who is at Risk for Truancy? few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

  • Students who are:

    • New to the school

    • Coping with a parent’s separation

    • Often the victims of bullying

    • Doing poorly academically

    • Frequently suspended for acting up in school

    • Experiencing finical hardship

    • Feeling pressure socially or academically

    • Having trouble making friends

    • Of a racial minority group

    • Get into trouble outside of school

    • Have friends who do not take school seriously

(Reid, K. 1999)


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What few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:NOT to do:

  • Research indicates that there are 4 distinct teacher characteristics that students dislike:

    • Teachers who are “stand-offish” or take their role too seriously

    • Teachers who fail to show an interest in their students as individuals

    • Teachers who are soft and/or inconsistent

    • Teachers who are unfair, biased, or make unreasonable demands

(Reid, K. 1999)


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What Teachers few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors: SHOULD do:

  • Research consequently describes a variety of characteristics of teachers successful at deterring truancy:

    • Teachers who are able to keep control of the classroom

    • Teachers who have a sense of humor

    • Teachers who foster warm, empathetic relationships

    • Teachers who teach their subject well, with enthusiasm, and in a variety of interesting ways

    • Teachers who are consistent and fair

    • Teachers who offer their students a sense of choice and freedom

(Reid, K. 1999)


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What Works? few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:Research you can use

At this time, please refer to the Model Truancy Reduction Initiatives on page ___in your Study Guide


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5. few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:Involve local law

enforcement in truancy

reduction efforts.

(U.S. Department of Justice, 1996)

Five Community-wide steps to reduce truancy

While each community and student body is unique, the U.S. Department of Justice has determined that there are 5 distinct steps a community should take the reduce truancy:

1. Involve parents in all truancy prevention

2. Ensure that students face firm sanctions for truancy.

3. Create meaningful incentives for parental responsibility

4. Establish ongoing truancy prevention programs in school.

5. Involve local law enforcement in truancy reduction efforts.

(U.S. Department of Justice, 1996)


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Now what? few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

Considering the Five Elements found by the U.S. Department of Justice to be effective deterrents of truancy…

What can school staff members do to help?


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Involve parents in all truancy prevention few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

1

Parents have the greatest influence on school attitude and school attendance

Mutual trust and communication is essential when working with parents to combat truancy

Making regular contact with a student’s family is the first step in preventing behavioral problems, including truancy


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Ensure that students face firm sanctions for truancy few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

2

School districts effective in increasing attendance have a zero-tolerance policy for truancy

In order to effectively enforce a zero-tolerance policy, the community, parents, and law enforcement should all be involved


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Create meaningful incentives for parental responsibility few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

3

Tactics may include…

Parenting education programs

Negative incentives, such as the loss of public assistance to parents who condone truant behavior

Positive incentives, such as eligibility for publicly funded programs


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Establish ongoing truancy prevention programs in school few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

4

  • Preventing risk factors such as:

    • Student drug use

    • Violence at or near school

    • Association with truant friends

    • Lack of family support

    • Emotional and mental health problems

    • Difficulties reaching educational or career goals


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  • Suggestions for addressing each child's unique needs: few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

    • Tutoring programs, particularly peer to peer

    • Added school security

    • Drug use prevention programs

    • Community mentoring programs

    • Emotional and mental health problems

    • Support from social service agencies

    • Differentiated classroom instruction

    • Career and goal setting programs


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Involve local law enforcement in truancy reduction efforts. few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

5

The most commonly successful program includes community run temporary detention centers, where law enforcement officers can bring truant youth, as opposed to local police stations

Police sweeps have also dramatically reduced truant behavior


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Case Study few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

At this time, please refer to the Case Study on page ___in your Study Guide


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More Information on Combating Truancy: few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

Bimler, David & Kirkland, John. (2001). School Truants and Truancy Motivation Sorted out with Multidimensional Scaling, 16(1), 75-102.

Reid, Ken. (2003). A strategic approach to tackling school absenteeism and truancy: the PSCC scheme. Educational Studies, 23(4), 351- 371

U.S. Department of Education in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice. (1996). Manual to combat truancy. Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2001). Truancy Reduction: Keeping Students in School. Washington, D.C.


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References: few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

Bimler, David & Kirkland, John. (2001). School Truants and Truancy Motivation Sorted out with Multidimensional Scaling, 16(1), 75-102.

Reid, Ken. (2003). A strategic approach to tackling school absenteeism and truancy: the PSCC scheme. Educational Studies, 23(4), 351- 371

U.S. Department of Education in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice. (1996). Manual to combat truancy. Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2001). Truancy Reduction: Keeping Students in School. Washington, D.C.


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Questions? few of these types will be discussed in this presentation, it is helpful to know the features of each of the following behaviors:

Contact Information

Amanda Meiers

Email: [email protected]

Mailing address:

Social Studies Education

Department of Instruction and Learning

School of Education

University of Pittsburgh

5104 Posvar Hall

Pittsburgh, PA 15260


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