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Open Access Publications from the University of California

From Truancy and Alienation to School Fluency and Graduation: Increasing Student Engagement by Bridging Institutions


This Policy Brief explores how a community-based truancy prevention program mediates against absenteeism, truancy, and dropping out and positively transforms the lives of Black and Latino youth. Findings suggest that community–school partnerships are critical in the quest to combat truancy and the alarming dropout rate among urban youth. This study shows how committed individuals can work to engage and empower low-income urban youth who are disengaged from school. Extensive interviews and observations with Latino and Black youth demonstrate how the intervention program mediates against social and academic failure. Using grounded theory, this case study explores four student- identified dimensions that impact his (re)engagement with school:(a) the importance of space that promotes peer relations, (b) incentive structures within programs,(c) the need for social networks, and (d) youth advocacy as a mechanism for institutional accountability. Implications for combating truancy, reducing dropout, and promoting student engagement are discussed.

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