Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Jonathan Becker
This study utilized a mixed methods design. The study was carried out in two phases. In the first phase of the study, a secondary data analysis of data were collected from a sample (n = 390) of middle and high school students who participated in a truancy pilot program launched during the 2012-2013 school year with follow-up services provided through June 2014. The sample was divided into two groups (treatment and control). The treatment group was diverted from court referral and participated in an intervention consisting of in-home counseling and case management services. The control group was referred to court and went through the traditional court process and received no treatment services. The effectiveness of the intervention was measured through the collection of pre and post intervention data consisting of the number of unexcused absences, disciplinary referrals, beginning and final grades in English, math, science, and social studies. As a final variable, retention and promotion rates were examined. The
effectiveness of the truancy reduction intervention was measured by the amount of reduction in these variables following the implementation of the treatment. Data in the first phase of the study were collected by the Family Assessment and Planning Team (FAPT) in partnership with the school district and other agencies.
Further analysis was performed in Phase II of the study utilizing a single school case study design. Qualitative case study is an approach to research that allows the researcher to explore a phenomenon within its context using a variety of data sources. For this phase of the study, data were collected through a survey and a focus group using a sample of students from the treatment and control group of the truancy pilot program. The focus group was designed to gain insight from the voices of the students regarding their perceptions of the factors that influence truancy and the effectiveness of truancy intervention.
The statistical procedures used to examine the quantitative data included Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) and Chi Square. Analysis of data collected in Phase I of the study revealed that there was no difference in the effect of treatment for students who were diverted from court to treatment services and those who went through the traditional court process and received no treatment. This finding was supported by results of the analysis of data from the survey and focus group. Results indicated that students did not perceive either invention as being more effective than the other in reducing their truancy. Further, results of the survey and focus group indicated that school factors, not family factors, had the greatest impact on the students’ nonattendance. School factors such as safety, teacher and student relationships, and teacher expectations were identified as primary themes. The findings suggest that the truancy pilot intervention’s focus on family factors as a means of reducing chronic truancy may have been focused in the wrong direction. .
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