Truancy Intervention Strategies:
In order to develop a successful intervention process, school building officials need to rely on teachers (especially in the elementary and middle school grades) as an integral part of the communication network with parents. Research indicates that parents have a stronger connection with and feel less intimidated by teachers than school officials. Teachers can help identify truant behavior early by:
- keeping regular and accurate attendance records
- communicating with students and parents about the importance of daily class attendance
- promptly reporting to the building central office prolonged absences
personally work to support truant students when they are in attendance (the overwhelming feeling of being behind often exacerbates the truancy problem) helping building officials understand the true cause of non-attendance in each student’s case (lack of attendance is a symptom not a problem)
School officials must stress to parents that they are a partner in their student’s success in school. When students are truant, there needs to be immediate notification to and consultation with parents. This linkage should be identified in the district policy regarding process, timelines, etc.
Consequences for non-attendance must be clearly indicated and linked to school success; according to research, students will react better to intervention if they have a ‘second chance’ -- due process rights are also required.
If the school district considers truancy a systemic community problem, they should research the possibility of school counselor liaisons or police officer liaisons (there are successful models in Calhoun ISD). They should again involve the community in this process with awareness information; one community who embarked on such a campaign titled it: “Love Your Children -- Keep Them in School!”
When students transition to another building (grade level transfers, transfers in, etc.) they are high risks for truant behavior. Students are often faced with: a changing peer support group, establishing different relationships with peers and staff, a changing home environment, etc. As new students are counseled, especially those with other risk factors (siblings dropping out, siblings with truant behavior, peer culture with truant behavior, etc.), courses, teams, classes should be carefully determined. The same is true when a student begins to exhibit truant behavior; the school officials should attempt to determine if a change in school environment might help the student be more successful.
We may want to further explore (perhaps through an Expert in Residence Program), individuals from successful programs to provide teacher and administrator professional development in: determining risk factors, early signs of truant behavior, or other high risk characteristics to better intervene with students before they are overwhelmed or lost.