The independent variable will be the positive reinforcement as represented by the incentive program. The study will be examined by examining increases or decreases on the overall attendance rate of students before application of an incentive program and then after the incentive program has been in effect for at least 1/2 of the school year. It is expected increases or decreases in the truancy rates will be due to the independent variable.
Rationale, Relevance, and Significance
This study is being proposed as the result of a literature review that which suggested that methods to curtail truancy in the past relied on negative consequences as key motivators. However, this research wishes to take a more positive approach to motivating students to attend school. A new approach to the problem of truancy is needed. The ultimate goal of the study is to reduce the overall truancy rate among middle school students.
This is a much needed study in the field of educational administration. It will provide insight into a new approach to resolving the truancy problem. It will provide school counselors and administrators a new approach to attempt in order to resolve the truancy problem. This study will be used by school counselors and administrators to help introduce programs aimed at reducing the average truancy rate for the school system. It will also be of use to law enforcement officials who wish to provide an alternative to the punishment-based systems that have prevailed in the past.
This study has significant relevance to other scholars in this field of study. It will examine a new way of thinking about attendance and about how to reduce truancy. It will stray from traditional methods of dealing with the issue and will provide insight into a new direction for the field to take. The old, punishment-based systems are only marginally effective. Yet, no one has ever tried a more positive approach to the problem. Research in the past simply used the old methods of resolving the truancy issue without question. This research will present an alternative to the negative reinforcement-based systems of the past. Positive reinforcement is a prominent technique in many related disciplines. People will be more likely to be motivated by working towards a goal than by avoiding negative consequences.
This study is significant in within several academic fields. It is expected that the outcomes of the study will support the use of positive reinforcement over negative methods of behavior modification concerning truancy in middle school students. The study will provide a new model for resolving an old problem. It will provide a new approach to enticing students to attend school through the use of a rewards system that is based on positive reinforcement techniques.
Practitioners in the field of education will be able to use this information to devise programs that get results. School counselors can use the program developed as a part of this study to provide a new method for dealing with truancy issues. The scholarly community will be able to use this research as a springboard into a new paradigm regarding truancy and the ability to decrease it in the future. There is much research that could be done in the future. Researchers could test various methods of reward. They could try out the program on different age and demographic groups of students. They could test its efficacy against punishment-based forms of truancy measures.
There are many gaps in research regarding truancy. An examination of the topic leads to the conclusion that current methods for dealing with the problem are not based on recent research on human motivation. It leads to the conclusion that the current system using the threat of the criminal justice system and punishment has not changed in recent years. It is based on archaic ideals based on using the threat of punishment as a deterrent to a behavior. However, recent research into the area suggests that punishment-based systems may be ineffective in reducing many types of unwanted behavior, such as truancy. This research will give school personnel and law enforcement professionals new tools for addressing the growing problem of truancy in our public schools. This research will help to fill in several missing gaps in the most recent research studies. It will draw its techniques from other fields that have applied the method of positive reinforcement to behavior modification.
Nature of the Study
This study will be a quantitative study that addresses the issue of school truancy. It will present a new perspective on the problem of school truancy and various means to reduce it. The study will use a comparative research study method that assesses truancy levels before the program is applied to the test population and after application of the test procedure to the chosen test population. Due to the fact that many schools do not track truancy numbers in their student population, the study will have to be conducted by first determining the truancy levels in the school before the test condition is applied.
This study will examine truancy levels in terms of changes in truancy levels after the program has been applied to the student population. This study will help to determine the impact of using positive reinforcement as opposed to aversion techniques for the reduction of school truancy in the school system. The study takes a different approach from other studies found in the literature review, as it examines the topic from a different perspective. Rather than testing the old methods, it proposes a new method for reducing truancy in schools.
Definition of Terms
This research study examines the topic of truancy, which would appear to be a simple term to define. However, defining truancy and the various terms in a meaningful way that will allow the research variables to be isolated is a rather complex issue. The following will define key terms, as used in the proposed research study.
Local Education Administration (LEA) -- the local education administration refers to the school in which the school district in which the study will be conducted.
Middle School Student -- This term will be narrowly defined to include only those students currently enrolled in grades 7-8 for the current school year.
School Administrators -- This refers to those persons in charge of making macro-level policy changes on a district-wide level. It will not include principals of a specific grade level.
School Counselor -- the school counselor will be the person or person that are responsible for administering counseling to students that have been truant. Many school systems have different nomenclature for the school counselor. They may be called an academic advisor, school psychologist, sociologist or many other names. There position is defined in this study by the role that they perform, rather than their formal title within the school system.
Truancy -- There are many aspects to truancy that make it a difficult term to understand and define. One of the primary difficulties in defining the term is that although every state in the U.S. has enacted compulsory school attendance, many differences exist in what is considered school attendance and the various rules that govern it. Although the mandate to attend school for children of a certain age is mandatory, there are many variations within the states themselves. For instance, in Michigan, the age of compulsory school attendance is ages 6-16 (Michigan Department of Education, 2002). However, Alabama is considering raising the compulsory school attendance age to 17 or 18 (Goymer, 2007). Differences such as these affect the definition of truancy, from one state to another. One of the difficulties occurs when a person moves from a state with a lower compulsory school age to one of higher compulsory school age.
The official definition of truancy refers to an unauthorized absence from school. However, definitions of an unauthorized absence differ from state to state and from school district to school district. In many cases, a doctor's note indicating that the student could not attend school and was legitimately ill. However, in some cases, even a medical excuse counts against the student, particularly when the absence results in extended work missed and causes the student to fall behind. Every case is different and every school district interprets the case differently. These differences will have to be taken into consideration in the research design. A uniform definition of truancy will means an unexcused absence from school without a valid medical excuse presented within the required time period.
Assumptions and Limitations
Differences in the definition of truancy and in state and local attendance regulations will have an impact on the ability to apply the results of the study to other situations. The exact policies and definitions of truancy used by the school district to be tested will have to be included as part of the study design. It will be assumed that the rules and policies that apply to truancy in the chosen school district will affect the outcome of the study. These will be taken into account…