Truancy Rationale, Relevance, Significance Organization of Remainder Research Proposal

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Rationale, Relevance, Significance

Organization of Remainder of Study

Review of the Critical Literature

Historical Context

Motivational and Behavioral Research: Why Punishment Doesn't Work

Co-Morbidity with Other Problems: Identifying Stressors

Bridging the Gap Between the Criminal Justice System and School Counselors

Experimental Design and the Problem of Truancy

Researcher's Philosophy

Research Design Guide or Model

Sampling Design and Setting


Field Testing/Pilot Testing

Internal Validity

External Validity

Expected Findings

Ethical Issues


New Approach to an Old Problem: Do Incentive Programs Decrease Truancy among Middle School Students


Truancy refers to any unexcused absence from school. Each state enacts their own school attendance laws and determines at what age the child is required to begin schooling, when a child can legally drop out of school, and the number of unexcused absences before a student is considered legally truant (NCSE, n.d.). Truancy adversely affects the student, resulting in lower grades and decreased chances for success in life. Truancy only applies to children who are of legal age for compulsory school attendance.

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Reducing truancy is an objective of every school in the nation. As pressure increases to raise standardized test scores, the need to reduce truancy among all grade levels increases also. Truancy has a negative impact on students, the school, and on the overall performance of the educational system of the country. Traditionally, truancy has been handled through negative consequences and the involvement of the criminal justice system. The successfulness of these methods is marginal, at best. This study will explore the use of positive reinforcement as an affective means of reducing truancy in the school system.

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Truancy Rationale, Relevance, Significance Organization of Remainder Assignment

This research will explore the use of positive reinforcement through the use of items that can be earned through attendance and participation in the school system. This type of rewards system represents a new approach to the problem of truancy. Use of positive instead of negative reinforcement represents a paradigm shift in methodology for dealing with the truancy problem. This study will explore the effectiveness of a rewards/points system in reducing truancy in middle school students.

Background of the Study

One of the key problems that plagues study of the truancy problem is a lack of statistical evidence on a national level (NCSE, n.d.). Data from Wisconsin suggests that as many as 1.6% of all students were absent in any one single day (NCSE, n.d.). According to national statistics, students that experienced behavioral problems were often sent to see a guidance counselor. Schools tended to employ one guidance counselor for every 284-335 students (NCES, 2004), This can mean a heavy case load for school counselors.

Studies regarding court cases for truancy based on gender found that boys were only slightly more likely to be sent to court for truancy than girls. Of the petitioned cases from 1990-1999 54% were boys and 46% were girls (Puzzanchera, 2003). Gender differences were of little significance in the truancy issue.

Truancy is not the end of the problem, but the beginning. Truancy has been linked to several undesirable, and much more serious behaviors, as criminal activity, social isolation, educational failure, drop out, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, low self-esteem, and troubled family relationships (Office of the Surgeon General, 2001; Center for Mental Health Services, 2001). These problems have a significant impact on society, not only while the child is in school, but it affects them when they get out of school as well. It impacts their ability to find employment and become productive members of society. Truancy has a high social cost, much of which is difficult to measure in concrete terms. However, the impact on society is real and it is significant.

Truancy is a significant problem for schools and for communities. The goal is to prevent truancy before it becomes problematic. A critical need exists to find ways to combat truancy and the impact on society. A study that involved 28 communities found that truancy was a good predictor of middle school drug use. The same study found that truant 8th graders were more likely to smoke marijuana than those who attended school regularly (Halfors, et al., 2002). This was a key reason for the selection of middle school students for participation in the study.

There are many statistics missing from studies regarding truancy. For instance, no representative national numbers appear to exist. The reason for this lack of information is that many schools do not collect these statistics. Seemingly related statistics indicate that those who do not graduate from high school have reduced chances for employment and a higher chance for committing a crime than those that do not have a high school diploma or GED (Harlow, 2003). Therefore, reducing truancy is an important issue that has high social costs at stake.

Many factors have been found to be associated with truancy. These include inconsistency in the application of attendance policies, policies that "push out" students with poor performance, a lack of parental notification of absences, safety issues, a poor school atmosphere, and the inability to identify special educational needs (NCSE, n.d.). Several familial factors were found to be the identified with increased truancy as well. These include family health of financial matters that pressure the student to care for others or perhaps hold a job. Abuse or neglect, teen pregnancy, safety issues near a child's home or on the way to and from school, parental substance abuse, or negative role models all contribute to truancy among students (NCSE, n.d.).

As one can see, many factors may contribute to school truancy. Some of them arise from school, and others arise from the home. Regardless of from where the issues stem, the resultant truancy has negative consequence on the community and on the students. Reducing truancy rates should be a priority for every school system in every community. Reducing truancy is an important issue due to the impact on the school and the communities that support them.

Statement of the Problem

Truancy poses significant societal problem and poses a threat to the future of youth. In the past, methods to help resolve truancy have resulted in little impact on the overall rate of truancy. This study will examine a new approach to the problem based on positive reinforcement, rather than punishment.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine a new, positive approach to reducing truancy levels among middle school students.

Research Questions

This study will explore a new approach to resolving high rates of truancy among middle school students. However, in addition to this central issue, it will also explore the topic of truancy in greater depth. It will attempt to fill in many missing gaps that exist in research regarding truancy. The question of a lack of statistical records on truancy will be explored by asking the research question, "What are the real truancy numbers in the schools chosen for study?"

The literature review revealed that there are many contributing factors to truancy rates. It suggested that factors at both school and at home are to blame for many incidences of truancy. This research will be solution based, therefore, rather than relying on the central issues behind the truancy, the study will remain focused on a single cause, discovering a way to reduce truancy. The study will explore the question, "What factors influence the success or failure of a positive reinforcement program designed to decrease truancy rates?" In doing so, the research will answer the question of why and how the method affects truancy rates.

The study will focus on the motivation of the students to attend school. The study will explore the program in relation to its ability to encourage students to come to school and participate. For instance, the research will examine the most effective reward schemes and what they mean in terms of producing a real reduction in truancy. The study will ask the research question, "How does the reward program affect the willingness and motivation for students to attend school

Taking these research questions into consideration, the following research hypotheses will be used to determine the success or failure of the program.

H1: The positive reinforcement program proposed in this research will result in a statistically significant decrease in truancy when compared to data prior to the program.

H01: The positive reinforcement program proposed in this research will not result in a statistically significant decrease in truancy when compared to data prior to the program.

This single hypothesis will serve as the unifying element for the research study. It will be supported by the research questions to provide a deeper understanding of the issues at hand.

Study Variables

This study will utilize a quantitative research design. It will consist of statistical measures both prior to treatment and after treatment has been applied to the control group. For this study, truancy rates for middle school students are expected to be dependent upon their response to an incentive program designed to encourage them to go to school. The dependent variable for this study will be the truancy… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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