Targeted truancy interventions

Program basics

  • Interventions seek to address truancy, including remedial academic work, academic tutoring, career and technical education, case management and counseling services, parent outreach, and enhanced attendance monitoring practices
  • In-school policies seek to modify existing procedures that exacerbate truancy, such as suspensions
  • Common alternatives include in-school suspension, detention, and alternative schooling programs
  • Court-based programs generally coordinate services for youth, often involving a social worker or case manager

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by the National Institute of Justice


Target population

All school-aged children

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Across sixteen studies, targeted truancy interventions improved attendance by an average of 4.7 days, though post-intervention absenteeism still remained above desirable levels
  • After implementing anti-truancy programs, such as ACT Now, some schools recorded a 64% decrease in the number of truancies
  • Intervention programs have shown success in decreasing dropout rates in addition to truancy rates
  • Programs which are culturally sensitive and include academic enrichment techniques show more success in lowering truancy rates for all students

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Analyze root causes of a student’s poor school attendance, determining if family, school, economic, mental health, or community-based obstacles are contributing most to attendance challenges before implementing specific interventions.
  • Encourage active partnerships between school districts, specific school leadership, law enforcement, and community-based organizations in addressing truancy issues.
  • Schools should closely monitor attendance and advise parents immediately of unexcused absences and negative consequences stemming from chronic absence.
  • Clearly state goals and objectives to parents and community stakeholders; provide consistent, written guidelines on program procedures, like the minimum number of absences before action is taken.
  • Ensure that communications with parents are conducted in the family's native tongue.
  • Provide annual training for key school administrators and allocate staff to work with schools and justice system agencies to coordinate community-wide responses to truancy.
  • Foster an environment grounded in mutual trust and respect between students, families, and the truancy intervention program.

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