Truancy in Illinois Term Paper

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Truancy in Illinois

The objective of this work is to compare and contrast the research and conclusions set forth in the two articles reviewed for this work relating to truancy in the state of Illinois and to offer personal insight on each of these studies. If one of both articles yield, ambiguous outcomes it will be explained why this may have happened.

This work reviews two case studies. The first of these is entitled: "Truancy, Delinquency, Prison: Can Schools Break This Cycle" written by Ginger Wheeler and published in a 2002 issue of the School Board of Education Journal in the state of Illinois. And the second which is entitled: "Student Attendance: Research and Strategies" a publication of "The Principals Partnership" in the sate of Illinois, both of which relate to truancy in the state of Illinois.

"Student Attendance: Research and Strategies" (Johnston, 2005)

In this first case study under review, truancy in the state of Illinois is focused upon and the research is conducted with the primary objective of attempting to understand the reasons that students who do not attend school fail to attend. The question asked in this study is: "What are the characteristics of successful student's attendance programs for the high school?" (Johnston, 2005) This work relates that strategies for increasing the attendance of students are generally placed into several categories, which often are known to overlap. Those categories are stated to be:

1) Sound and reasonable attendance policies with consequences for missing school;

2) Early interventions, especially with elementary students and their families;

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3) Targeted interventions for students with chronic attendance problems, such as truancy reduction programs - both school and community based; and 4) Strategies to increase engagement and personalization with students and families that can affect attendance rates, family involvement, culturally responsive culture, smaller learning community structures, mentoring, advisory programs, maximization and focus on learning time, and service learning." (Johnston, 2005)

Term Paper on Truancy in Illinois Assignment

Major findings of this study, which was conducted by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL, 2004), include the characteristics of the students who fail to attend school. Those characteristics are state to include:

1) Students perception of school tends to be negative;

2) Perceptions of student that parental discipline is not an issue (lax, consistent, etc.);

3) Perceptions of student that parents are exerting control over them;

4) Student feels inferior to peers on the academic level;

5) Student holds a perception of conflict within the student's family;

6) the student does not feel competent on the social level in class. (Johnston, 2005; paraphrased)

Perceptions that were identified as being held by the students who were 'chronically absent students' during the interviews with these student that were stated to keep these students from attending school on a regular and consistent basis were stated to be the reasons as follows:

1) Classes held to be "boring, irrelevant, and a waste of time" (Johnston, 2005);

2) Student did not have relationship of positive nature with teachers;

3) Student did not have positive interactions/relationships with peers;

4) Student was suspended often;

5) Student did not feel safe/secure while at school; and 6) Student was unable to keep up with homework. (Johnston, 2005)

This case study report does not provide much information relating to the methodology utilized in this study however, it does mention that interviews were conducted thereby leading this researcher to believe that this was a qualitative case study design with interviews and possibly with use of focus groups as well although the specifics of this case study methodology are not stated. This work states that the state of Illinois should "recognize and build on the attendance impact of existing programs" which include those as follows:

Transition programs (ease middle school students into ninth grade)

School-based health programs;

Career Education and work study programs and college dual enrollment;

Academic support for underachievers

Extracurricular activities

The transition programs are believed to be important in making the students comfortable in this change from middle school to high school and tends to give the students more confidence resulting in better attendance. The school-based health programs, which are comprehensive in nature, tend to result in better attendance rates. Career education and work-study programs, which provide the student with a jump on their goals following high school, have been show to be effective in "lowering a school's dropout rate and raising school attendance." (Johnston, 2005) Academic support for students who are underachievers including writing centers, math labs, mentoring programs and other forms of academic support" (Ibid) have been shown to "have a positive effect on both achievement and attendance." (Ibid) Extracurricular activities such as "sports, music, the arts, clubs and interest groups" boast members who have higher rates of attendance than students not participating do in these types of groups.

II. "Truancy, delinquency, prison: Can Schools break this cycle"

The work of Ginger Wheeler entitled: "Truancy, Delinquency, Prison: Can Schools Break this Cycle" published in the Illinois School Board Journal, September/.October 2002 states that in the state of Illinois alone with an attendance rate of over two million in public schools, 47,000 of these students are 'chronic truants' or fail to attend school regularly. Wheeler states that "...truancy is a good predictor that a student will become one of Illinois' 35,000 high school dropouts, and subsequently a drag on society." (Wheeler, 2002) Wheeler relates that when a student is charged with criminal activities and "becomes involved with the juvenile justice system. Probation officers, lawyers, judges and social workers take over." (2002) in fact, between the years of 1981 and 2002 the state of Illinois constructed 19 new prisons with a holding capacity of 32,000 inmates. Wheeler states the following statistics, which are referred to as being of a 'shocking' nature:

1) Three out of four state prison inmates did not complete high school, according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority;

2) an estimated 16% of prisoners are mentally ill, according to a report by ABC News;

3) a vast majority of prisoners are expected to have learning disabilities. But no one knows for sure; and 4) the Department of Corrections' budget has risen by at least 125% since 1990." (Wheeler, 2002)

The work of Wheeler (2002) is one that focuses on the link between truancy and chances of imprisonment with the primary objective of research being to review the truancy rates as compared to the imprisonment rates of teenagers. The methodology is one of a qualitative nature and has been conducted through a thorough review of literature on the subject. The question asked is whether truancy is a predictor of juvenile delinquency and subsequent imprisonment.

This literature review states findings that there are over 12,000 juveniles in the state of Illinois experienced going to jail in 1999 which declined from five years earlier however, detention has more than doubled since 1981. The state of Illinois is stated to have a capacity of 1,512 and currently holds over 1,800 juveniles in very overcrowded facilities. Recidivism rates are stated at 40% illustrating a family rehabilitation effort in the state of Illinois. According to Wheeler, Michael Mahoney, chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission states: "Some very creative things are being done between school districts, school board and communities." (2002) Mahoney goes on to relate the belief that: "To think a judge is going to make kids go to school is just folly." (Wheeler, 2002) Wheeler relates that educational program in the state of Illinois that has been developed for the students in juvenile detention and the fact that the program is so successful that students are witnessed to be "...jumping up a grade level in six weeks." (Wheeler, 2002) the key to success: "each community should, and does, develop programs to meet this own needs. Evening reporting centers, parent education classes, art programs and one-on-one mentoring are examples of programs that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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