Frustrated by students who continuously skip class, police and school officials in Anaheim, California, are turning to using a GPS tracker to ensure pupils come to class.
The Anaheim Union High School District is the first in California to test Global Positioning System technology as part of a six week pilot program. Seventh and eighth graders with four unexcused absences or more within the school year are assigned to carry a handheld GPS device, about the size of a mobile phone.
Each morning on schooldays, the students got an automated phone call reminding them that they needed to get to school on time. Then, five times a day, they were requires to enter a code that tracks their location; as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8pm.
The students were also assigned to an adult coach who called them at least three times a week to see how they were doing and to help them find effective ways to make sure the students got to class on time.
Students and their parents decided to volunteer for the monitoring as a way to avoid continuation school or prosecution with a potential stay in juvenile hall.
“The idea is for this not to feel like a punishment, but an intervention to help them develop better habits and get to school,” said Miller Sylvan, regional director for AIM Truancy Solutions.
The GPS devices cost $300-$400 each. Overall, the six-week program costs about $8 per day for each student, or $18,000.
The program was paid for by a state grant. Students who continuously skip school are prime candidates to join gangs and cause trouble, police have said. San Antonio and Baltimore have particularly welcomed the programme. Where the GPS has been implemented, an average attendance among the chronically truant has jumped from 77 per cent up to 95 per cent during the six week programme.
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