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Washington Models for Change Toolkit Sees 100% Success Rate in Implementation

Washington Models for Change site coordinator Jennie Marshall in Spokane County recently released the site’s first toolkit, titled Spokane County Toolkit for Community Truancy Board Replication. School districts across Washington, including Port Townsend School District in Jefferson County, have begun to use the toolkit to implement community truancy boards in their own communities.

Community truancy boards have emerged as one of the most successful models of the Washington Models for Change initiative. Students who have been cited as truant appear before the board, which then takes action and offers solutions to the student’s truancy problem, such as attending alternative schools or reengagement programs. Most boards employ the Check and Connect model, in which a court official follows up with cited students and tracks their progress. Spokane County’s West Valley Community Truancy Board has shown incredible success, with  94.5 percent of students who came before the community truancy board reengaging with the public school system.  

Spokane County’s toolkit, developed collaboratively with Washington State University, details step-by-step how to create a community truancy board without any additional funding. Everything schools need to know is included in the toolkit, including how to inform and engage community members, evaluation tools, PowerPoint presentation templates, and examples of success at each step in the process.

A representative from the Port Townsend School District in Jefferson County heard about the toolkit while at the Washington Juvenile Court Administration’s annual conference early in 2011.
After contacting Spokane County for a copy, Jefferson County quickly went to work developing its own community truancy board. Court officials, school administrators, and community members rallied around the cause, and representatives from the collaborative effort sought additional information and support at the Check and Connect training sponsored by Washington Models for Change in Spokane in January 2012. With systems in place, Port Townsend School District held its first community truancy board in February 2012. As of May 2012, the program has a 100 percent success rate, meaning all students who have been cited for truancy have had no cause for contact with the court system and have been successfully reengaged in school.

“This is an exciting time for Washington Models for Change,” said Marshall, Spokane County site coordinator for the MacArthur-funded program. “With this toolkit, we’re able to expand help and resources to kids and their families exponentially.”

Building on the current momentum, Spokane County, along with other Washington Models for Change sites, is planning a national dissemination plan for its toolkit. “This really is the spirit of Models for Change,” said Marshall. “These programs work. It’s time to show the nation how it’s done.”

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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.

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