An Analysis of a Comprehensive and Collaborative Truancy Prevention and Diversion Program
Dachman, Kelsey Megson
University of Kansas
Applied Behavioral Science
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Education is fundamental for the development of skills required for academic and social success. When students fail to attend school regularly, adverse consequences result at the individual, school, and societal level. Truancy, or not attending school as required by law, has been linked to academic failure, school dropout, substance use and abuse, delinquency, and problems that persist into adulthood (e.g., job problems, marital issues, adult criminality, incarceration). Past research demonstrates the need for a collaborative and comprehensive approach to combat truancy that includes monitoring attendance, mentoring, providing meaningful consequences, increasing parental and school involvement, and ongoing evaluation. The present study evaluates the effects of a truancy prevention and diversion program (TPDP) on the decrease in unexcused absences accumulated by students in violation of the compulsory education law. The TPDP is recognized as an appropriate alternative to formal court involvement and has been offered to truant students and parents for 40 years. The program is a collaborative effort with public schools, the district attorney’s office, a child protective services agency, a youth services agency, and a midwestern university. Undergraduate practicum students act as mentors for truant students by developing positive relationships, monitoring attendance, and providing incentives through a behavioral contract. The program includes a review team led by an assistant district attorney. The primary investigator analyzed group data (i.e., unexcused absences) collected over the past 10 years and a representative sample of individual participants' pre-and post-intervention data collected over the past 10 years using single-subject methodology. Results demonstrate the effectiveness of the TPDP in reducing truancy across participants and years.
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