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Finding Hidden Value Through Mixed-Methodology: Lessons From the Discovery Program's Holistic Approach to Truancy Abatement

NCJ Number
American Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 30 Issue: 1 Dated: Fall 2005 Pages: 99-120
Date Published
22 pages
This article describes the evaluation methodology used to assess the success of a truancy abatement program in South Carolina.
Truancy is a serious social problem across the United States, robbing the Nation’s children of their right to an education. South Carolina has experienced one of the worst truancy problems in the country with a full 30 percent of its children dropping out of school before their high school graduation. In response to an overly repressive juvenile justice system that retains the power to hold truant children in custody, delinquency prevention programs began springing up across South Carolina communities. Dorchester County School District Four, which had high rates of truancy and suspensions in middle and high schools, developed the Discovery Program designed to combat the underlying causes of the truancy and delinquent behavior. Following a description of the Discovery Program and its participants, the authors describe the qualitative and quantitative approach adopted to evaluate the operational effectiveness of the program. In-depth interviews were conducted with administrative and program staff and focus groups were conducted with student participants. Quantitative analysis relied on grades and attendance records over the course of 2 academic years. Results indicated overall operational success for the Discovery Program, with services offered within the scope of funded components of the program. Unlawful absences among participant students significantly decreased between the 2 academic years under analysis. The program is considered a model of a prosocial and proactive initiative that has a significant impact on the lives of disadvantaged youth. Tables, references

Date Published: January 1, 2005