If I had an nemesis truancy would be it. As a middle school social worker I am responsible for tracking, and intervening for over 700 students. I’m learning lots along the way and here are the 10 ways I am banishing truancy on my campus…
#1- Warning Letter
#2- Attendance Assessment
For students that have received warnings and continue to show attendance issues a brief attendance assessment is given. In the assessment I engage the student in conversations about reasons for missing school. We collaborate and address each issue. A great part of the assessment is gather information as to which extracurricular activities they may be involved in and any friends or people that miss them when they are not in school.
#3 – Home Visits
Home visits offer a whole new perspective on truancy. Everything from the home environment to distance from school, allows me to help the family in matters of school attendance. Always be sure to take attendance records and sticky notes to leave at the home if there is no answer at the door.
#4 – Attendance Forum
This works best as a district wide effort to engage families with truancy issues. At each forum families are given their students current attendance records and the importance of attendance are addressed. The municipal court can be represented at the forum as well to provide families with a dose of reality when it comes to truancy consequences. In my district a attendance forum is required for the family of any student who has 5 or more unexcused absences.
#5 School Wide Pizza Party
This intervention is a way to involve all teachers and student on campus. The school principal can set their attendance goal for the year and any 2nd period teacher that is showing that percentage of attendance or greater is eligible for a pizza party. This intervention allows classmates to encourage each other and compete in the name of school attendance!
#6 Gift card Raffles
A weekly gift card give away is a great way to reward students with improving attendance rates. If the student is able to attend for a whole week of school they are entered for a $10 gift card. If they show 2 weeks of attendance they are entered into a drawing for $25 gift card and so on.
#7 – Electronic Giveaways
The school as a whole can provide raffles for students that show perfect attendance. I Pods are given each six weeks for students that have not missed school. Students that are entered for I-Pod giveaways are also given a chance to qualify for a grand prize Xbox at the end of the year.
#8 – Attendance Committee Meeting
I facilitate the monthly committee meetings. The committee consist of teachers, special education representative, administrator and community resources (Communities in Schools and City Wide attendance representative). Individual attendance cases are discussed and staffed for interventions. It works well to choose 5 of your schools top truancy cases. Along with staffing I review as well as daily attendance rate per classroom and the students I have referred to court. At the end of the meeting referrals are taken and discussed for next month’s agenda.
A much tastier intervention is provided to students that are closest to court than ever. These students have shown a chronic pattern of truancy. Breakfast tacos and Orange Juice are part of a Monday morning intervention to promote good attendance and mentorship. Even more filling than the tacos are the relationships that are formed over breakfast. Each student is assigned to a buddy or teacher mentor that will review the upcoming week and encourage daily attendance.
#10 – Pre-Trial Court Diversion
A pre-trail court diversion is essentially a one on one meeting with families of students that are court bound. Court case managers are present and provide the parent with an attendance contract that may deter the family from a court case. Attendance contacts are reviewed after 3 months or until broken by student.
How do these interventions sound…familiar or new, please share any interventions you use to address the ever growing attendance issues in our schools!