U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan along with Kamala D. Harris, the attorney general of California, penned an Op-Ed appearing in the LA Times with their thoughts on solving problems of truancy. While the focus was on California, the advice resonates anywhere students are missing school.
“It’s clear that intervention helps,” the op-ed says. “As needed, schools should connect families with social services, public health and community resources to address underlying problems. Parents must be held accountable, and law enforcement should support interventions that educate and bolster struggling students and parents.”
The Op-Ed coincides with the release of an in-depth report on Truancy in California, which is available at http://oag.ca.gov/truancy, but the key findings include five recommendations for schools and districts:
1) Accurately track individual attendance in order to make informed intervention decisions
2) Intervene quickly – even after the very first unexcused absence
3) Collaborate with local service organizations including public agencies and faith-based communities
4) Design and implement a communication strategy to educate families on the importance of school attendance, including the legal consequences
5) Reassess any policies that may be counterintuitive, such as suspending a student for non-attendance or expelling a student from school when an alternative learning environment would be more beneficial
“The Key recommendations in the California study mirror the services that Aim provides districts everyday,” said Aim’s founder Paul Pottinger, Ph.D Clinical Psychlogy. “Early identification of at-risk and truant teens, increasing accuracy in school attendance reporting, educating parents and students about attendance, and working with local organizations to help families resolve whatever issue may be keeping their student from attending school are all under the umbrella of our current offerings.”
August 22, 2013 – AUSTIN, TX – AimTruancy Solutions provided mentoring and case management support services to over 1000 students and families in Austin ISD during the 2012-2013 school year, and during an interview with NBC affiliate KXAN, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen discussed what the district’s priorities for the upcoming school year and also weighed in on the success of the AimTruancy program.
When asked if the Aim program helped contribute to the district’s 95% attendance rate, $5 million in additional funding, and record-high graduation rates – Carstarphen responded, “Oh Absolutely. Yea – some of it’s out-of-the box, some of its age-old and true. It’s a combination of things because every student has a different circumstance. Every child and their family has their own context that they’re trying to live in and go to school in.”
Aim provides students with positive one-on-one mentoring to help students succeed. Goal setting, accountability, and giving students hope are all key components to what we do.
February 8, 2013 – AUSTIN, TX – AimTruancy solutions is currently working with over 800 students in 9 Austin ISD high schools and the preliminary results are in. According to Austin ISD’s Attendance Report, the campuses AimTruancy currently serves are up an average of 2% during the third six weeks, which translates into an additional $250,000 just during that period.
Annually, that increase would mean additional $1.5 Million for Austin ISD from those schools alone.
KXAN-TV News in Austin did an in-depth investigation into the program and spoke with Austin ISD officials, students on the program, and parents of students enrolled.
“I’m glad AISD did this,” said Bertha Cherry, the Dropout Prevention Specialist at Akins High School which has over 200 students currently receiving mentoring services.
One parent whose child is enrolled in the program told KXAN, “I’m glad they picked her (to participate) because it’s definitely helped her a whole lot.”
Watch the full investigative report from KXAN here:
January 3, 2013 - The Austin American-Statesman recently took an in-depth look at Austin ISD’s use of the AimTruancy program in nine of it’s high schools.
“It’s very helpful,” one student enrolled in the program told the newspaper. “At the beginning of the school year, I messed up a lot, and I skipped. I decided to take the second chance they were giving me and be in the program. Ever since I’ve been in that program, it made me focus more on my classes.”
“If our students don’t attend, they can’t get the instruction they need from their classes,” Crystal Bernard, the district’s administrator supervisor for high school programs told the paper. “It’s marrying the technology that our students are already comfortable with, to get them excited about coming to and attending school.”
The article added that increasing attendance in Central Texas by as little as 2% would increase district income by $34 million.
After a successful pilot of the AimTruancy Solutions program at one high school, Austin ISD is finalizing its expansion into an additional seven high schools with over 1000 students expected to take part in the program.
“We were looking for something innovative, unique — something that we hadn’t done before,” said Lisa Goodnow, former Interim Director of High Schools for the Austin Independent School District while speaking to KXAN-Austin News.
Average attendance for kids in the pilot program at Eastside Memorial jumped from 78 percent to 90 percent, and twelve out of thirteen seniors in program graduated.
“It’s hard to say for sure the students wouldn’t have made it, but I think that we’re beginning to see results that suggest that it was a critical component,” said Goodnow.
February 22, 2012 – Bryan, TX – Judge Tommy Munoz is passionate about getting students on the right track to graduate and be productive citizens of his community. Two years ago he partnered with AimTruancy Solutions to help combat the number of truancy cases in Brazos County and Bryan ISD.
“I think it’s been a huge success.”Munoz told local news station ABC40, “We’ve had a lot of students written letters and parents sending thank you notes.”
“The truancy program not only serves as a tracking device, but more of a mentoring system.” Munoz continued, “They have coaches, mentors that talk to the students.”
Aim’s dropout prevention and truancy reduction program currently serves hundreds of high schools across Texas and the United States.
“We listen to what’s going on in their life and we start leading them to what is ultimately much more decisions, much better quality of life,” AimTruancy CEO Travis Knox told ABC40, “but it all starts with education and education starts with getting to school on time.”
October 10th, 2011 - AimTruancy Solutions is in the Greater Chicago area this week for the annual National Dropout Prevention Conference, where truancy experts and educational leaders from across the country gather to share the latest research and approaches to dropout and truancy prevention.
“Keeping students in school though high school graduation is critical to their future success and to the success of our country,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn when welcoming the participants to the 2011 Dropout Prevention conference.
AimTruancy Solutions will be on hand to answer questions about the approach that continues to help districts across the United States increase school attendance and achievement.
“When truants become graduates, they break the dropout-to-prison cycle,” says Travis Knox, president of AimTruancy Solutions. “Truancy is the first step to dropping out, and dropping out often leads to joblessness, welfare, crime, and prison – the costs to society are staggering.”
July 26, 2011 - New Texas Legislation was recently signed into law, and while Senate Bill 1489 has many different parts, one section deals specifically with how schools handle truancy cases.
The new bill amends the Texas Education Code and requires school districts adopt truancy prevention measures prior to referring and filing a truancy case with the courts.
According to the new legislation, the truancy programs must be designed to “address student conduct related to truancy in the school setting,” and “minimize the need for referrals to juvenile court” or “justice court alleging truancy,” among other filing requirements.
Aim’s current clients are likely already in full compliance with the new requirements under this specific part of the new law.
May 24, 2011 – The Texas House of Representatives voted 139-0 to adopt Senate Bill 1489 on Monday, which amends the state education code by adding a new section devoted to adopting truancy prevention measures.
The bill, which still needs to be signed into law by Texas Governor Rick Perry, requires school districts to address truancy at the school level in order to minimize the need for referrals to juvenile courts. Also, the new amendments will require that all truancy referrals in Texas be accompanied by documentation of the district’s effort to correct the behavior.
“We have several, well established and proven programs that keep kids in school and out of the courtroom,” says Travis Knox, President of Aim Truancy Solutions, which has offered truancy intervention programs since 2005. Knox also noted that most of Aim’s current clients are likely already in full compliance with the new truancy prevention measures, referral, and filing requirements.
If Governor Perry signs the bill, the new truancy laws will go into effect on September 1, 2011.