New from the Center
In observance of the federally sponsored Awareness Day, more than 1,100 communities and 115 federal programs and national organization across the country participate in events, youth demonstrations, and social networking campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health.
Disaggregating student data into subpopulations can help schools and communities plan appropriate programs, decide which evidence-based interventions to implement (i.e. programs implemented and evaluated with the target population), use limited resources where they are needed most, and see important trends in behavior and achievement.
On April 18-19, 2012 the National Center hosted the Strategic Planning for Sustainability for 2009 Sites. Each grantee site brought a team of four to six people, including the Project Director and persons who hold key leadership positions within the school district as well as the mental health, law enforcement, and juvenile justice partners. The agenda lead a team process building on last fall’s online event “Planning for Sustainability Using the Legacy Wheel.”
The National Evaluation Team, MANILA Consulting Group, Inc., has released a series of monthly Data Briefs. Each brief highlights SS/HS grantees in action and uses data from the field to show how the SS/HS initiative is both results-oriented and cost-effective.
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Webinar: “Beyond the Numbers: Tell Your Story with Infographics and Social Math”
Description: In Part II of this Webinar series, hosted by the Communication & Social Marketing Center, participants will share their experiences creating sustainability communications materials using the techniques discussed in Part I and present their results to the group for sharing best practices.
“Preventing Student Dropout with the Early Warning Intervention System”
“Sustainability in Times of Scarce Resources”
Addressing Cultural and Linguistic Competence
“Discipline that Does No Harm: Improving Academic Outcomes for African American Male Students”
The Effectiveness of a Community Truancy Board in Re-engaging Students Back into School
A new study published in the OJJDP Journal of Juvenile Justice examines the effectiveness of one community’s restorative justice-oriented truancy intervention at successfully reintegrating students back into the school setting. Under the Washington state truancy statute, a student who accumulates five unexcused absences in one month is required to enter into a contract to help improve attendance. To avoid potential involvement with the juvenile court, the family may opt for referral to a community truancy board.
The West Valley Community Truancy Board in Spokane, Washington uses a restorative justice approach to improve student school attendance and academic performance. When a student comes before the truancy board, the board places a stay on any county juvenile court truancy petition. Board members collaborate with the student, family, school, and community to find a solution to the student’s truancy issues. The student and family sign an agreement with the truancy board indicating the steps they will take so the student can attend school. If the agreement is breached, the board lifts the juvenile court stay.
Additionally, the board contracts with a truancy specialist who works with truant youth, applying the Check & Connect model—a multi-component model using mentoring, systemic monitoring, timely individualized intervention, and enhancing home-school support. The truancy specialist meets periodically with students and families to provide social support and find solutions to students’ truancy issues.
The evaluation of the West Valley Community Truancy Board used both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data was obtained from the state’s Administrative Courts and included school outcome measures for truant youth attending the West Valley School District (WVSD), as well as truant youth attending other schools in Spokane County. The data represent 3,500 youth, 621 of whom eventually had truancy petitions filed against them. The data comparison matched students for gender, race, being over-age for grade, and Grade 9 credits to increase confidence that any positive outcomes were due to the intervention itself and not to differences in the sample composition.
The qualitative data was taken from interviews with 28 current and former truancy board members and school administrators, three focus group sessions with 28 additional interviewees, and interviews the truancy specialist conducted with students and parents on the usefulness of the West Valley Community Truancy Board process.
The results of the data analysis showed that WVSD students who were truant were more likely to graduate and less likely to drop out than comparison students from the 'county.' However, WVSD students were also more likely to have a truancy petition filed against them (28%) compared to the comparison group (9%). The WVSD uses five unexcused absences as the benchmark for filing a truancy petition; whereas, the other comparison districts’ students accumulated a higher number of unexcused absences prior to the district filing a truancy petition. Therefore, it is likely that the WVSD sample comprises truant youth who are at less risk than the comparison district sample. In order to further mine the data, the research team matched truant students from WVSD to the students from the comparison districts on a number of key variables, including dropping out of school and other unknown outcomes, transferring out of school, and earning their GED. The truant students from WVSD performed slightly better than the matched comparison students on all outcomes.
The qualitative analysis provided positive evaluations of the West Valley Community Truancy Board. Eighty-two percent of respondents said the board provided a positive experience for truant youth. Sixty-eight percent reported the truancy specialist was either a “good” or “very good” addition to the truancy board process (31% voiced no opinion). Parents and students were also positive about the West Valley Community Truancy Board process. Eight-two percent of students and 81 percent of parents said the process was beneficial.
This study concludes that the WVSD appears to have created an intervention that benefits truant students compared with students in other districts. Researchers explain, “This intervention is guided by an overall philosophy that school re-engagement, rather than system involvement, should be the goal of a process emphasizing reintegration of students into an educational setting that works for them.”
To view the entire research article, “Transitions of Truants: Community Truancy Board as a Turning Point in the Lives of Adolescents,” go to http://www.journalofjuvjustice.org/JOJJ0102/article03.htm.
In the News
Application Now Available for Information Sharing Certificate Program
Playworks Can Transform the School Climate, from the Playground to the Classroom
Research, from Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University, shows that recess and organized play can positively improve school climate. Using the Playworks program, researchers found benefits including: less bullying, better student behavior, and increased learning time.
Tribal Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities Lead in Offering Community Outreach Services
A new report, published by SAMHSA, found that 81% of substance abuse treatment facilities run by tribal governments provide outreach to those seeking treatment, compared to 51% in the general population.
Research to Practice: How Advancements in Science are Helping People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders
This Webcast highlights examples of research findings that affect practice across diverse topics such as stage-wise treatment, motivational interventions, cognitive behavioral techniques, brain science, recovery-oriented treatment and services, self-directed care, peer support, and the strong impact of trauma in people’s lives.
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Conferences and Events
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To register: http://samhsawomensconference.org/