Families & the Community

Texting: The Solution to Truancy

By Caroline Cournoyer — January 11, 2011 1 min read

A high school student has proven there’s a way to reduce chronic absenteeism—and it’s not by taking parents to court.

In the Huffington Post, 15-year-old Zak Kukoff describes TruantToday, a Web application he originally created for a science fair project. The program sends text messages and e-mails to parents when their kids skip school. Exactly how the parents deal with the information is not prescribed, but when Kukoff tested the program at a high school in Staten Island, N.Y., it proved effective. Half of the chronically absent students returned to class that day, and 75 percent of student’s attendance improved during the pilot period.

According to Kukoff, his service could also lead to lower crime rates, noting that on the day he tested the program in Los Angeles Unified School District, incidences of shoplifting decreased 82 percent.

Kukoff hopes to implement TruantToday in as many schools as possible (for free), but this isn’t the 9th grader’s only innovation. He also founded a nonprofit to teach autistic students social, emotional, and academic skills, and has already given a TED talk—something many innovators and entrepreneurs dream of doing.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.