In California, tracking truant high school students with GPS

Officials in Anaheim, California are experimenting with using GPS tracking to ensure that high school students who regularly skip class actually attend.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Technology goes where secondary school administrators fear to tread.

Officials in Anaheim, California are experimenting with using global positioning system, or GPS, tracking to ensure that students who regularly skip class actually attend.

The Anaheim Union High School District is the first in California to do so, kicking off a six-week pilot program last week, reports the Orange County Register.

The program is simple:

  • Seventh- and eighth-graders with four or more unexcused absences in a single school year are assigned a handheld GPS device to carry.
  • Each morning on schooldays, truant students receive an automated phone call reminding them to attend school on time.
  • While at school, the students are required to enter a code that tracks their locations, five times each day: as they leave home for school, when they arrive, during lunch, when they leave school and at 8 p.m.
  • The students are also assigned an adult coach who calls them at least three times a week to check up on them and help them find ways to get to school on time.

The idea: monitoring is a way to avoid students simply tacking on additional years of school, or worse, prosecution and a stay in juvenile hall.

The pilot program, which costs about $8 per day for each student and totals $18,000, is paid for by a state grant. The GPS devices cost $300 to $400 apiece.

While that sounds expensive, schools lose about $35 per day for each absent student -- allowing the program to actually pay for itself.

Opponents to the GPS pilot say the program treats students like criminals.

Proponents say the numbers speak for themselves -- not to mention that it's a crime to allow students to skip school without a valid reason.

Anaheim isn't the first city to try the technology. San Antonio and Baltimore have also implemented GPS and seen success.

[via Consumerist]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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