California school district battles truancy with GPS

Gadgets that track chronically absent students are cost-effective for school

Students with a tendency towards truancy in California's Anaheim Union High School District are being assigned GPS units to make sure they're going to school on time, according to The Orange County Register. The GPS units are the size of a (chunky) cellphone and are developed by Dallas-based AIM Truancy Solutions, which operates in more than 100 middle and high schools in three states.

The Anaheim Union High School District is part of a volunteer six-week pilot program that is outfitting seventh and eighth grade students who have more than three unexcused absences with these devices. In Austin, Texas, where this experiment also ran, it was used for middle and high school students who had racked up between 20 to 25 absences.

When asked by the Orange County Register why the devices are handheld rather than strapped to the students, Miller Sylvan, regional director of AIM Truancy Solutions, said, "We don't want to criminalize the kids or have them wear any bracelet or something around their ankle that would stigmatize them."

Every school day, the participants receive an automated phone call reminding them to get to school on time. They are then required to enter a code that tracks their location during their departure for school, arrival at school, lunch period, departure from school and at 8 p.m., the Register reports.

The devices cost between $300 and $400 apiece. All together, the six-week program costs about $8 per day for each student, or $18,000. It's estimated that schools lose $35 per day for each absent student, so AIM Truancy Solution's program is a cost savings.

Some parents weren't thrilled with the program. "This makes us seem like common criminals," one parent, whose child accumulated six unexcused absences, told the Register.

But perhaps carrying a GPS unit and regularly logging one's location is better than the alternative: Police Investigator Armando Pardo told the Register that if the District Attorney prosecutes, truant students could be sent to juvie and get smacked with a $2000 fine.

"Nearly two-thirds of the students enrolled in AIM [in the fall semester of 2010] achieved perfect attendance while on the initial program, and all students combined averaged 97 percent attendance," according to a press release.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags consumer electronicsGPSorange

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Brennon Slattery

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?