Authorities attempt to curb truancy by tracking students with GPS

A new pilot program has been started in high schools in Northern California, that uses satellite technologies in an attempt to keep attendance levels high by making sure students are in class. Both school officials and local law enforcement acknowledge that the truancy levels in the area are becoming a problem. The Anaheim Union High School District will be the first in the area to attempt employment of GPS to raise attendance rates.

GPS tracking systems are being used to track students who are frequently absent without excuse. Skipping school is a problem among the most at-risk youth, and while at first this tracking may seem like both overly zealous punishment and an encroachment on personal autonomy, it is intended to help protect their futures. Academic performance is often indicative of future success in the job market. 

If students are not present to learn the skills needed to survive, they are likely to fall through the cracks. Along with poor performance, frequently truant student are more likely to suffer from higher unemployment levels, and are more likely to be underemployed. Students will also hold lower paying jobs, and there is a strong correlation between income levels and life satisfaction. While money does not lead directly to happiness, being in a constant struggle to make ends meet is likely to increase the levels of stress that an individual experiences. 

The trial is being run for six weeks in the Anaheim School District. Students that have been absent without an appropriate excuse for four or more times will be given a hand held GPS tracking device that resembles a mobile phone. According to the program, the device sends out notifications to remind students as to when classes are starting. The anticipated fruitfulness of this technology is based on the idea that students are absent from their classes because they are unaware that the classes are taking place, rather than the more likely idea that they dislike class and are simply unwilling to attend. The program also continues to track the whereabouts of student for an additional four hours after school has ended, for reasons that have not been clarified. Speculators hint that the after hours tracking may be a related attempt to reduce public mischief and petty vandalism. There is a strong correlation between school truancy and delinquent behaviours. Each student is assigned a supervising adult with whom they meet a few times each week to discuss the efficacy of this program, as well as steps the young person can take to increase the likelihood that they will be present for education.