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Parent/Guardian Perspectives on Chronic Absenteeism and the Factors that Influence Decisions to Send their Children to School

Wallace, Cynthia (2017) Parent/Guardian Perspectives on Chronic Absenteeism and the Factors that Influence Decisions to Send their Children to School. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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An estimated 10-15% of students miss an entire month of school each year. Past research on students who are chronically absent finds that, relative to their peers who consistently attend school, chronically absent students are more likely to experience negative academic outcomes (e.g., grade retention, dropping out), to be under- and unemployed, to be incarcerated, and even to die prematurely. Although there has been a significant amount of quantitative research on patterns of chronic school absenteeism and on the student, family, school, and community factors with which it is correlated, surprisingly little research has examined parents’/guardians’ decisions to keep their children out of school.
In an effort to address this gap in the literature, the present study interviewed 22 parents/guardians of chronically absent elementary and middle school students to understand their perspectives on chronic absenteeism and to discover what support they felt they need to ensure that their children attended school each day.
The results of the study reveal that the primary reasons parents/guardians identified for their children’s chronic absenteeism include challenges related to the child’s mental health, parent activities, interactions with other children at school, and transportation. Factors that parents/guardians identified that would help them to improve their students’ attendance include increased communication about absenteeism and family issues, expressed compassion and interest in reasons why students are absent, and specific provisions to help children make up missed instruction and school assignments. The study concludes with recommendations for chronic absenteeism policy and practice, and directions for future research.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Wallace, Cynthiacmw35@pitt.educmw35
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKerr, Mary
Committee MemberGunzenhauser,
Committee MemberTrovato,
Committee MemberWooten,
Date: 15 May 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 April 2017
Approval Date: 15 May 2017
Submission Date: 7 May 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 174
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: School absenteeism Chronic absenteeism Elementary school absenteeism School refusal behavior Parent perspectives on absenteeism
Date Deposited: 15 May 2017 16:16
Last Modified: 15 May 2017 16:16


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