Almost 10 years ago, the National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983) issued a report, which warned that the nation faced a rising tide of mediocrity, if performance in the public schools did not improve. At the time the report was issued, it was the latest in a series of studies chronicling the decline of academic performance in the country's schools. Since that time, other such warnings have been issued, along with, self-serving, self-congratulatory, and erroneous messages from the Reagan and Bush Administrations stating how much American public education has improved under their leadership.
A multitude of reasons which have been cited as causes of the decline in academic performance in American public schools. One of the reasons cited in the 1983 report (National Commission on Excellence in Education) was poor attendance. Poor attendance continued to be cited as a cause of substandard academic performance (Eastwold, 1989; Hill, 1989b; Janko, 1988; Kunisawa, 1988). The truancy problem has not gone away.
The typical public perception of truancy is of a student skipping school¨for a period, several periods in a day, a day, or several days in a semester or quarter. Truancy of that type is a problem in American public schools; however, it is not the only type of truancy that constitutes a major problem for American schools. Skipping periods and days from school often leads to the dropping-out of school by students, and dropping-out of school is the most serious truancy problem faced by American public schools (Bracey, 1989). The drop-out rate is 26 percent nationally; however, it is more than 40 percent in many cities (Bracey, 1989c). Some students drop-out at the junior high school/middle school level.
Behavioral problems¨running away, selling drugs, using drugs and alcohol, stealing cars, and so forth¨underlie truancy in many cases (Bracey, 1989c). Frequent relocation of households is another important rea...