The 'new' look in truant officers

Is it possible for a school district to have a truant officer cover 24,000 students from 22 junior and senior high schools, period by period, six times a day? The Oakland, Calif., Unified School District does. It's serious about controlling absenteeism.

The district has just installed a Honeywell DPS 8/44d two-processor, large-scale computer system. Upon request and on the same day, the computer transmits to each school a complete list of absentees (printed out on the school's computer-connected printer) by student name and time of absence.

At the end of a class period, high school teachers fill out a computer ''scanning'' sheet for that period's attendance and send it to the school's central office. There, the information is entered into a scanning machine connected on-line to the central office computer. The district has 25 computer terminals installed throughout the system (it plans to add 66 more, according to Jerry Ardissone, director of data processing).

Central office personnel will issue daily management reports to the schools and will also be aware of each school's average daily attendance for state reporting purposes.

Besides entering class attendance via the scanner, school employees will also use the terminal screens for adding or deleting students from classses.

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