Youth Rights, Truancy and Washington State's Becca Bill
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This research investigates truancy in Washington State framed as an issue of youth rights. Washington's Becca Bill requires schools to track and address students with multiple unexcused absences, using court as a last resort. The study uses mixed methods to explore the variation in truancy and petitions at the school level. It focuses on the experience of truancy up to and including the truancy petition. Count modeling using data on students with unexcused absences from school years 2003-2004 through 2006-2007 examines truancy at the school level. A survey of principals provides information for assessing the role of school environment. A latent class analysis on the survey results forms the basis for a predictive model to determine what changes schools could make to reduce absenteeism. A photography project with youth in two alternative schools, and interviews with parents and other adults who work with youth supplements the quantitative data. The study finds that intergenerational relations are important; that categories of youth rights conflict with each other, and that changes in school environment can affect truancy. It proposes that a model of youth rights other than the tradition of autonomous individuality is needed to reduce truancy while respecting youth rights to education and self-determination.
- Geography