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Washington State Institute for Public Policy
December 2017
Washington State has compulsory school attendance laws that require school-aged children to attend school and mandate how schools and courts must respond to unexcused absences. These laws establish a series of escalating interventions that can ultimately result in truant students facing legal consequences, including detention.

The 2016 and 2017 Washington State Legislature modified these requirements. Some significant changes included increasing the information provided to parents about truancy, requiring schools to use formal assessments of students and data-informed steps to address truant behavior, mandating the use of community truancy boards (CTBs), and requiring courts to try alternative methods before ordering detention.

The Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to evaluate the effectiveness of the 2016 act. In this initial report, we outline the evaluation plan and identify potential data gaps. The final report, due January 2021, will describe changes in CTBs, truancy petition characteristics and outcomes, and student academic outcomes using a combination of descriptive and quasi-experimental methods. If possible, the analysis will include a meta-analysis evaluating the effectiveness of truancy and drop-out prevention programs.
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