There are a lot of empty desks throughout the United States every year due to truancy. The costs are staggering – billions to schools, lost time and resources and most importantly the wasted student potential.  

Empty DesksIn a recent Los Angeles Times article, the state of California and its truancy problems were highlighted along with the question of how to handle it. According to the article, about 1 in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students miss a month of school each year. Just in California alone, over 250,000 students missed 18 or more days of school last year.
 
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Truancy destroys teaching in the worst sense- teachers must teach and re-teach the same materials and students obviously score poorly on tests.
 
The Los Angeles Times continues the truancy article: “Students who are truant in elementary school are more likely to be truant in middle and high school, when truancy is closely linked to an increased chance of a child dropping out.”
 
Pat Wyman, continuing education professor at California State University, winner of the James Patterson Page Turner Award for her work to enhance literacy, best selling author of Amazing Grades:101 Best Ways to Improve Your Grades Faster; Spelling Made Easy and Math Facts Made Easy, knows first hand, as a former reading specialist in Los Angeles Unified School District, the drastic fallout of high truancy rates.
 
“More students who are constantly absent will drop out of school, illiteracy rates rise, prisons become overcrowded, and the entire system suffers in untold ways. Jobs go unfilled, there is a higher crime rate, and these same students place a high burden on the tax payers in numerous other ways as well,” said Wyman.
 
The Times article noted the solution to truancy as a straightforward one of accountability. “Hold accountable everyone who bears responsibility for getting kids to school.”

The article continued: “School districts already have the tools, as well as the legal responsibility, to intervene when a child is truant. And it’s clear that intervention helps. Truant elementary students whose attendance improves are half as likely to drop out in high school compared with students whose truancy continues or worsens.

School districts have long taken daily attendance, but they need to use the information they gather to create an early warning system that identifies children who are frequently absent. School administrators should contact guardians immediately when a child is truant and insist on a meeting to find solutions.

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 business community should be enlisted to help create incentives to improve attendance, like rewards for schools and families with improved attendance.”

Thank you to the L.A. Times for this very helpful information – this excerpt and new written portions were posted by author Pat Wyman

Continue reading How California Should Deal with Truancy on the LA Times. 

Read more on truancy. 

Empty Desks