California school district uses GPS tracking to combat truancy

Frustrated school officials have turned to GPS tracking in an attempt to curb truancy, as reported in a local California, USA newspaper. The six week pilot program is aimed at habitually truant seventh- and eighth-grade students with four or more unexcused absences.


Frustrated school officials have turned to GPS tracking in an attempt to curb truancy, as reported in a local California, USA newspaper. The six week pilot program is aimed at habitually truant seventh- and eighth-grade students with four or more unexcused absences.

During this initial phase, students are being asked to simply carry the GPS devices instead of wearing them. Students enrolled in the program receive automated phone calls each morning reminding them to go to school, and must enter a tracking code five times per day: leaving for school, arriving at school, at lunch, leaving school, and at 8:00pm.

Each tracking device costs $300-$400, adding up to a total of $18,000 for the entire program. However, according to Miller Sylvan of Aim Truancy Solutions (Dallas, TX, USA), each absent students costs the school $35 per day, so the devices will eventually pay for themselves.

“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 Sylvan.

Previous programs found participant attendance rose from 77% to 95% in similar six-week trials, with many students continuing their improved attendance habits after the program’s conclusion.

In this program, parents are responsible for the cost of lost devices however, amusingly, most devices can be found fairly easily via GPS anyway.