The impact of the addition of community based truancy intervention panels on the reduction of student absences
In 2008, a large southeastern school district was awarded an $8.5 million Safe School/Healthy Students (1999) federal grant. The grant, titled Success for All Students (SFAS) (2008) was a collaborative effort between the school district and county commissioners with the shared goal of increasing student achievement and healthy development by providing and sustaining family, school and community prevention and intervention programs. One of the services provided by the SFAS program was the addition of a truancy intervention panel (TIP) in the 35 district schools receiving services. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a TIP on the percentages of students with 15 or more days absent (dependent variable) along with analyzing the responses of panel members pertaining to the effectiveness of the TIP. This was a longitudinal study measuring the dependent variable reported by each of the 108 schools in the district. The percentage rates of TIP schools were compared to non-TIP schools and over time (2006-2011) in TIP schools. Analysis included the comparison of the dependent variable for all, Black, White, and economically disadvantaged student groups. TIP members provided survey responses, which identified strategies used by the TIP to reduce student absences as well as measuring the perceived impact of the TIP at reducing truancy. The survey responses then provided a final measure of program fidelity. A 2 (TIP v. non-TIP) x 6 (Years: 2006-2011) analysis of variance (ANOVA) was run to measure the between subjects effect on the dependent variable revealing the addition of a TIP had no impact on the percentage rates compared to non-TIP schools at the elementary, middle, or high school levels. Further analysis of data included the ANOVA to measure the effect of time (2006-2011) on TIP v. non-TIP. Results indicated the addition of the TIP had no impact on the dependent variable over time. Further study included between-subjects multivariate Pillai's Trace (MANOVA). Data analysis indicated that the addition of a TIP had no impact on the dependent variable compared to non-TIP schools or over years based on student ethnicity or socio-economic standing. Analysis did reveal highly significant differences between the dependent variables of White students compared to Black students with White students reporting significantly higher percentages of absences than Black students. This study found an overall decline in the dependent variable for the district in both TIP and non-TIP schools although the addition of the TIP had no more impact on the dependent variable than strategies used to reduce student absences in non-TIP schools. Survey responses indicated TIP members believe the addition of a TIP to be an effective method in reducing student truancy.