Poor attendance and periods of truancy are late stage indicators that a student is at high risk of dropping out of school. There are likely multiple factors leading to this stage:
- School is not meaningful or relevant;
- Academic and/or behavioral deficits isolate “at risk” students from the broader school community (e.g., suspensions, low-rigor alternative courses, hopelessness of having no way to “catch up”, low self esteem);
- Individual life circumstances make school participation difficult (e.g., pregnancy, weak family supports, violence, mental health issue, substance abuse, physical health issues, need to work or provide care to family members).
In 2008, the overall graduation rates (4 year cohort) for individual schools varied from a low of 64 percent to a high of 100 percent. The schools with the lowest graduation rates were in high poverty areas. Even within the same school, there is often a huge achievement gap between socioeconomic cohorts.
This inequity in education outcomes is one of the factors driving the efforts for education transformation. With the right learning environment, demographics are not destiny. Vermont’s recent effective schools study, Roots of Success: Effective Practices in Vermont Schools, describes what distinguishes schools that effectively support all students, particularly those from low income backgrounds.
Truancy and dropout rates are not problems to be solved. They are symptoms of ineffective learning cultures that need to be transformed.
For more information about agency and legislative efforts to address truancy and dropout rates, view the information and links below.
Countywide Truancy Policies (Memo dated March 23, 2010)(Added 3/23/10)
In the 2009 Miscellaneous Amendments to Education Law (Act 44, Section 46) the Vermont Legislature required the Commissioner to create a study group to examine and develop comprehensive truancy protocols, publish model truancy protocols on the department’s Web site and make recommendations to the House and Senate Education Committees on whether any legislation is currently needed to address truancy. In addition, the Commissioner is required to ensure that on or before July 1, 2010 the supervisory unions in each county adopt truancy policies that are consistent with the legislative intent of confronting truancy on a statewide and countywide basis and include the involvement of both the State’s attorneys and judiciary. If you require technical assistance or additional information, contact Barbara Crippen, Legal Counsel, at (802) 828-5937.