Title

A Multimodal Approach to Truancy: Small Groups, Needs-Based Parental Resources, and Ninth-Grade RTI Students

Location

Scarbrough 3

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Family & Community

Relevance

The concerns of truancy and how to help parents of at-risk students fall under Strand I Head: Academic Achievement and Leadership and Strand V Home: Family and Community. School social workers, counselors, administrators, and teachers are searching for strategies that have been shown in practice to improve school attendance (and thereby improve achievement) and to form positive relationships with at-risk students and their families. This presentation will share a process that did produce positive results.

Brief Program Description

Attendance of at-risk students can be significantly improved when students receive small-group counseling and their parents are provided with some necessary resources. A process will be shared that produced positive results. Addressing the process in early high school has the potential to break the cycle of truancy and improve graduation rates.

Summary

In an urban high school, one of the school improvement goals was to decrease truancy by 5% during a school year. Analysis of current attendance information for the school showed that almost 40% of students were absent more than 15 days the previous year, and that over half of the students who missed 6-15 days were in ninth grade. The current school protocol was that teachers reported absences to parents by phone. To address the issue with a target group of ninth-grade RTI students, a multimodal approach was designed using small group counseling sessions for the students and needs-based parental resources. There were 23 students in this 9-week study. A teacher phone calls only control group (n =12) had absences addressed using the current school protocol. A multimodal approach group (n = 11) participated in small group sessions and their parents received needs-based resources to address student absences. An Attendance and Accountability Assessment and a Parental Involvement Assessment were used before and after the study in order to have comparison data. Fieldnotes recorded student interactions, parent interactions, and group dynamics. Participants who received small group sessions and needs-based parental resources had a statistically significant decrease in absences when compared to students who received only a teacher phone call. Parents and students indicated a sense of support, and parents reported that they felt empowered by the resources provided in their meetings. Participants in the session will be provided with clear descriptions of the intervention and materials related to this intervention.

Evidence

Realizing that truancy is usually a symptom of larger problems and issues, developing interventions that address some root problems would likely provide a more significant result, and the literature provides support for multifaceted approaches (Cheney, Hawken, Mielenz, & Stage, 2009; Gandy & Schultz, 2007; McDaniel, Albritton, & Roach, 2013). The statistical significance of the difference in attendance between the group receiving the current school protocol and the group receiving a multimodal protocol provides evidence that the approach was successful with this particular group of students. The small number of participants and other design characteristics do limit generalizability to other settings, but carrying out the specifics of the plan is within the power of most schools. Positive changes in parent involvement and in parent attitude toward the school’s collaborative approach to the truancy problem also provided evidence of effectiveness.

References

Cheney, D., Hawken, L., Mielenz, C., & Stage, S. (2009).A 2-year outcome study of the check, connect, and expect intervention for students at risk for severe behavior problems. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.17(4), 226-243.

Gandy, C. & Schultz, J.L. (2007). Increasing school attendance for K-8 students: A review of research examining the effectiveness of truancy prevention programs. Saint Paul, MN: Wilder Research.

McDaniel, S., Albritton, K., & Roach, A. (2013). Highlighting the need for further response to intervention research in general education. Research in Higher Education Journal, 20, 1-12.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Curlandra Lightfoot Smith, MSW, Ed. S., is a School Social Worker in the Bibb County School District. She has a wide array of experience in the social work field from over 7 years at the Department of Family and Children’s Services as a foster care specialist to Hospice Social Work and Juvenile Justice Social Work. Mrs. Smith also taught students with disabilities at a psychoeducational school. Mrs. Smith graduated from Fort Valley State University with a Bachelor of Social Work in 2004. She also received a Master of Social Work in 2009 and an Ed.S. in Teacher Leadership in 2014, both from Valdosta State University.

Ellice P. Martin, Ed. D., is a Professor in the Dewar College of Education at Valdosta State University. She taught high school mathematics and was a middle school principal. She currently teaches undergraduate mathematics methods courses and graduate research courses in the Ed. S. program in Teacher Leadership.

Keyword Descriptors

At-risk students, high school truancy, parent involvement, social work in schools

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-8-2016 1:00 PM

End Date

3-8-2016 2:15 PM

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Mar 8th, 1:00 PM Mar 8th, 2:15 PM

A Multimodal Approach to Truancy: Small Groups, Needs-Based Parental Resources, and Ninth-Grade RTI Students

Scarbrough 3

Attendance of at-risk students can be significantly improved when students receive small-group counseling and their parents are provided with some necessary resources. A process will be shared that produced positive results. Addressing the process in early high school has the potential to break the cycle of truancy and improve graduation rates.