This paper presents results from an evaluative study of the truancy intervention program in Jacksonville, FL.
In the field of juvenile justice, it is known that truancy leads to a number of undesirable outcomes. However, research on truancy is limited. With the trend toward truancy reduction and the general belief that truancy is a precursor to other more serious problems, the National Center for School Engagement conducted a longitudinal study regarding the effectiveness of truancy reduction strategies, and their relative costs and benefits. To guide the study, two research questions were used: what is the relative cost effectiveness of these interventions given their propensity to produce high school graduation and deter criminal activity and what specific parent, school, and community interventions are consistently effective in improving school attendance, attachment, and academic achievement for truant youth? This paper summarizes the results of this study focusing specifically on the truancy intervention program in Jacksonville, FL. Jacksonville's truancy intervention program consists of a school-based intervention, called Attendance Intervention Teams (AITs); a non-judicial hearing held at the county court house for parents and students, called a Truancy Arbitration Program (TAP); the Truancy Interdiction Program (TIP), which supplements the overall truancy efforts at four truancy centers; and a group of community stakeholders, called Jacksonville United Against Truancy (JUAT) which guides the overall set of truancy interventions. The overall results indicate that the program is likely to be a very good investment of public funds given the high cost of high school failure. The program is highly effective in terms of immediate improvements in attendance with unexcused absences remaining lower at every 3-month increment compared to intake. The study initially shows that the Jacksonville program is accomplishing its goal of reducing absences among the children it serves. Bibliography
Date Published: August 1, 2005