Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Teaching Pt. 16

I heard a report on the radio regarding one challenging school's efforts to combat truancy, which I believe are commendable. I also heard details indicating that most students, in that school, "skip" school on Mondays and Fridays along with their reasons why. Hopefully the following ideas may help:

There are several ways to combat truancy listed in descending order of cost and effort:

1. Truancy could be nearly eliminated if the students lived on the school grounds, basically a boarding school. Obviously this is an extreme example that may be untenable, but at least the idea has been publicized.

2. The school can statistically analyze which students are most likely to "skip" school on Mondays and Fridays and where they live. So early on Monday and Friday mornings around 5 am school buses will be sent out on routes to pick up those students one after the other. Each bus will carry several truant officers, just in case the students need a little extra motivation to go to school on Mondays and Fridays. The bus routes will be chosen for efficiency of time and energy. Students will be picked up in random order, within certain limits, every Monday and Friday. Both the schedule and the route will be randomized, within certain limits, to forestall any attempts to plan against the pick up.

3. Another idea is to call potential truants, on their landline phone, on Mondays and Fridays around 5:30 am to remind them to attend school. With a follow up call every 10 - 15 min. If the telephone call is not answered, answered by a machine, answered by voice mail, or if any other indication that the student may not attend immediately a truant officer is dispatched. This works in three ways: the direct message to remind the student to attend school, the nuisance factor to the parents and family having to wake up and answer the phone so early in the morning, finally the prospect of having a truant officer show up at 5 am to get you ready for school. Once again the timing and frequency of the phone calls will be randomized. Truant officers may be strategically placed around the school district to ensure no less than a 10 min lag between notification and arrival on scene.

Once the student answers the phone he or she will be given a certain amount of time to arrive to school based on how long it takes to travel to school depending upon the mode of transportation.

4. Given that most students use cellphones, the school may use Google latitude to track the position of students as they make their way to school. Students that may be potential truants will be identified and located. In fact the phone call from part 3 may actually direct the student to turn on his/her cell phone just for this purpose.

5. Student will be encouraged to attend classes, and reminded everyday the importance of school and of consistently attending school.

John G.


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