unlimited access with print and download

Free

Continue searching

Causes of nonattendance and its effect on student achievement at the high school level

Dissertation
Author: Kelly D. Bracht
Abstract:
Many high schools in America have issues with student nonattendance. The researcher designed this mixed methods study to determine the affect of nonattendance on student achievement and to ascertain whether home-related factors or school-related factors were more significant causes of nonattendance. Both the high school in this study and other similar schools may use the results to develop effective nonattendance intervention programs. The researcher used cluster sampling to determine the sample population. She then collected attendance data (the number of absences each student had during one semester) and achievement data (each student's Grade Point Average during that same semester) about each of the participants. To determine the affect of attendance on student achievement, the researcher found the correlation and regression statistics of the two data sets. The author concluded that, at the high school in question, there was a small negative correlation between student attendance and student achievement; therefore, in most cases, the more absences a student had, the lower his or her Grade Point Average. The researcher surveyed the same sample population to ascertain whether home-related factors or school-related factors were more significant causes of nonattendance. The survey consisted of four parts, the first three of which were used to collect information regarding the causes of nonattendance. The final part of the survey was used to collect demographic and family background information from the participants. The researcher concluded that home-related factors were more significant causes of student non-attendance than school-related factors. However, in terms of influencing student attendance, student perceptions of and attitudes about both home and school were found to be equally important. The researcher gleaned some surprising information from the study surveys, the implications of which are vital to solving the problem of nonattendance. The researcher also noted several areas in which her data indicated that further study would be beneficial. These areas include, but are not limited to, parental perceptions and attitudes about school, the impact of race on student attendance, and the relationship between parents' levels of education and student attendance.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ......................................................................................................................... II List of Tables ............................................................................................................... xi List of Figures ............................................................................................................. xii Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................. 1 Overview ....................................................................................................................... 1 Background of Study .................................................................................................... 3 Research Questions ....................................................................................................... 6 Quantitative Research Question ............................................................................ 6 Independent Variable ........................................................................................ 6 Dependent Variable .......................................................................................... 7 Hypothesis......................................................................................................... 7 Null Hypothesis ................................................................................................ 7 Qualitative Research Question .............................................................................. 7 Hypothesis......................................................................................................... 7 Null Hypothesis ................................................................................................ 8 Significance of the Study .............................................................................................. 8 Limitations .................................................................................................................... 9 Parental Consent Forms ........................................................................................ 9 Attendance .......................................................................................................... 10 Students Who Drop Out ...................................................................................... 10 Loss of Students (Mortality) ............................................................................... 10

v

Timeframe of Study ............................................................................................ 10 Socioeconomic Status of Population .................................................................. 11 Sample Demographics ........................................................................................ 11 Student Completion of the Survey ...................................................................... 11 Instrument ........................................................................................................... 11 Definition of Terms..................................................................................................... 11 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 12 Chapter 2: Review of the Literature ............................................................................ 14 Background ................................................................................................................. 14 A Brief History of School Attendance ................................................................ 15 An Overview of Research on Nonattendance ..................................................... 17 Organization of the Literature Review ............................................................... 21 Methodology and Instrumentation .............................................................................. 23 Methodology ....................................................................................................... 23 Attendance Rates of the Sample Population ................................................... 23 Size of the Sample Population ........................................................................ 24 Research Location and Length ........................................................................ 25 Instrumentation ................................................................................................... 27 Populations .................................................................................................................. 30 Demographic Information and Socioeconomic Status ....................................... 30 Student Characteristics and Perceptions about School ....................................... 32 Family Characteristics and Parental Influence ................................................... 35

vi

School Characteristics and Teacher Perceptions ................................................ 37 Results from Attendance Research ............................................................................. 38 Demographics and Factors Related to Home Life .............................................. 39 School-Related Factors ....................................................................................... 42 Teachers .......................................................................................................... 43 School Policies ................................................................................................ 44 School Climate ................................................................................................ 45 Student-Related Factors ...................................................................................... 47 Academics ....................................................................................................... 48 Motivation ....................................................................................................... 49 Behavior .......................................................................................................... 51 Risk Behaviors and Nonattendance .................................................................... 52 Wide-Ranging Studies on Nonattendance .......................................................... 54 Recommendations ....................................................................................................... 55 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 57 Chapter 3: Methodology ............................................................................................. 60 Research Overview ..................................................................................................... 60 Research Design and Perspectives .............................................................................. 61 Research Perspective 1 ....................................................................................... 62 Research Perspective 2 ....................................................................................... 63 Research Questions and Hypotheses .......................................................................... 63 Instrumentation ........................................................................................................... 64

vii

Quantitative Instrumentation .............................................................................. 64 Qualitative Instrumentation ................................................................................ 65 Qualitative Instrument Design ........................................................................ 66 Qualitative Instrument Alignment .................................................................. 69 Population and Sampling Procedures ......................................................................... 72 Determining the Eligible Sample Population ..................................................... 74 Determining the Actual Sample Population ....................................................... 75 Research Design and Procedure .................................................................................. 76 Preparing the Data for Analysis .................................................................................. 78 Data Analysis .............................................................................................................. 79 Quantitative Data Analysis ................................................................................. 79 Qualitative Data Analysis ................................................................................... 80 Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 1 .................................................................... 81 Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 2 .................................................................... 84 Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 3 .................................................................... 85 Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 4 .................................................................... 88 Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 88 Chapter 4: Results ....................................................................................................... 91 Overview ..................................................................................................................... 91 Data Analysis .............................................................................................................. 92 Quantitative Data Analysis ................................................................................. 92 Qualitative Data Analysis ................................................................................... 95

viii

Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 1 .................................................................... 96 Z Test 1 ....................................................................................................... 99 Z Test 2 ..................................................................................................... 100 Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 2 .................................................................. 103 Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 3 .................................................................. 104 Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 4 .................................................................. 110 Grade level and age ................................................................................... 110 Gender ....................................................................................................... 110 Race........................................................................................................... 111 Parents’ levels of education ...................................................................... 112 Student attitudes about the future ............................................................. 113 Conclusion ................................................................................................................ 113 Chapter 5: Implications and Recommendations ....................................................... 116 Overview ................................................................................................................... 116 Data Analysis ............................................................................................................ 117 Quantitative Data Analysis ............................................................................... 117 Implications................................................................................................... 118 Recommendations for Further Study ............................................................ 119 Qualitative Data Analysis ................................................................................. 119 Qualitative Data Analysis, Parts 1 and 2 ...................................................... 120 Part 1 ......................................................................................................... 120 Part 2 ......................................................................................................... 121

ix

Implications............................................................................................... 122 Recommendations for further study.......................................................... 123 Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 3 .................................................................. 124 Implications............................................................................................... 126 Recommendations for further study.......................................................... 128 Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 4 .................................................................. 129 Grade level, age, and gender ..................................................................... 130 Race........................................................................................................... 130 Parents’ level of education ........................................................................ 132 Student attitudes about the future ............................................................. 133 Discussion ................................................................................................................. 133 The Importance of School Attendance ............................................................. 134 Acceptable Reasons for Nonattendance............................................................ 135 Cultural Influences on Attendance .................................................................... 136 Addressing the Problem of Nonattendance....................................................... 137 Conclusion ................................................................................................................ 138 Appendix A ............................................................................................................... 142 Appendix B ............................................................................................................... 143 Appendix C ............................................................................................................... 144 Appendix D ............................................................................................................... 146 Appendix E ............................................................................................................... 148 Appendix F................................................................................................................ 149

x

References ................................................................................................................. 150 Vitae .......................................................................................................................... 156

xi

LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Overall Student Demographics of the High School in this Study .................. 3

Table 2: Population Demographics ............................................................................. 73 Table 3: Demographic Make-Up of Students Eligible to Participate in the Study ..... 75 Table 4: Correlation and Regression Statistics for Number of Absences and GPA ... 93 Table 5: Home-Related Statements and the Students Who Chose that Statement ..... 97 Table 6: School-Related Statements and the Students Who Chose that Statement .... 98 Table 7: Descriptive Statistics for Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 1 – Z Test 1 ....... 99 Table 8: Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 1: Z-Test 1 Results ................................... 100 Table 9: Descriptive Statistics for Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 1 – Z Test 2 ...... 101 Table 10: Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 1: Z-Test 2 Results ................................. 102 Table 11: Home-Related Statements and the Corresponding Desired Responses .... 105 Table 12: School-Related Statements and the Corresponding Desired Responses .. 106 Table 13: Descriptive Statistics for Factors in Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 3 ... 107 Table 14: Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 3: Z-Test Results .................................... 108 Table 15: Qualitative Data Analysis, Part 3: Percentage of Student Responses ...... 109

xii

LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Average daily attendance over the past 5 years ............................................. 4

Figure 2. Line of best fit for the predictability of GPA based on number of absences ..................................................................................................................................... 94

Figure 3. Overall population compared to sample population by grade level .......... 110 Figure 4. Overall population compared to sample population by gender ................. 111 Figure 5. Overall student population compared to sample population by race ........ 112 Figure 6. Parents' levels of education ....................................................................... 113

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 1

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Overview Truancy and nonattendance are substantial problems in many high schools today. Many schools have programs in place to combat truancy/nonattendance with the hope of increasing their overall attendance rates. However, these programs can be misguided. Some programs focus on students who skip individual classes (rather than whole days of school). Other programs focus on trying to raise the attendance rates of students who already have good attendance, thus increasing the school’s overall Average Daily Attendance rate. Where many of these programs are lacking is in finding ways to motivate students with poor attendance to come to school. In order to do this, the school administrators must know why these students do not come to school. This study is designed to answer that question. The answer to that question is important for several reasons. Truancy and nonattendance can both lead to a multitude of problems, including dropping out of school altogether, poor academic achievement, and increased engagement in risk behaviors. One example of this comes from San Bernadino, California. According to data collected by the District Attorney’s Office, there are several alarming statistics related to truancy and nonattendance. For example, 78% of current inmates had truancy as the cause of their first arrest, and 67% of truants tested positive for drugs at the time they were arrested. In addition, 57% of violent crimes committed by teens happen on school days, and 82% of all prisoners in San Bernadino are high school dropouts. Truants are also at a higher risk of involvement with gangs, drugs, alcohol, and violence (Starr, 2002). Researchers have documented the relationship between absenteeism and risk behaviors, such as alcohol use, tobacco use, drug use, and sexual behavior, for some time.

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 2

This documentation goes back as early as the 1970s and has continued in recent years (Eaton, Brener, & Kann, 2008). Henry (2007) also found a high correlation between truancy and drug use. The social development model suggests a link between absenteeism and risk behaviors, because it states that students with strong bonds to school are less likely to engage in risk behaviors. Since students with strong bonds to school tend to have good attendance, it logically follows that students with poor attendance would be more likely to engage in risk behaviors. Nonattendance is not an issue unique to the United States. It is also a significant problem in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. In many places, even though schools are spending more and more resources on programs to address the issue, it seems to be getting worse (Davies & Lee, 2006). Eaton et al. (2008) estimated that nearly 10% of students enrolled in United States public schools are absent daily. In 1996, the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that daily absence rates were as high as 30% in some cities, with New York City public schools having absentee rates of approximately 15%, and Los Angeles, California schools having daily absentee rates of 10%. Some schools within the Boston Public Schools system are missing as many as 20% of their student population on any given day (Starr, 2002). In 2002, Hallfors et al. found that close to 10% of all students enrolled in public schools in the United States are absent every day. A few years later, Eaton et al. (2008) confirmed the earlier finding that in some larger cities up to 30% of students are absent in a single day. Furthermore, in New York, the areas of central Brooklyn, Harlem, and South Bronx reported that approximately 90,000 elementary school students missed at least one month’s worth of school in a single school year (Medina, 2008).

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 3

A review of the existing literature reveals little research in the areas of reasons for truancy/nonattendance and the relationship between student attendance and achievement. There is a sizeable pool of research from the 1980s, less from the 1990s, and very little from the 2000s. Schools, as well as social and family constructs, have changed during this time, which suggests that reasons for truancy and nonattendance may have changed as well. It is valuable to research this question in the new millennium to ensure that schools’ efforts to combat truancy and improve student achievement remain in line with the reasons students do not attend school in the first place. This study investigated the most prevalent causes for student nonattendance at the high school level and the relationship between attendance and achievement, as indicated by the Grade Point Averages (GPAs) of the students in the study. The researcher conducted the study at a suburban high school in St. Louis, Missouri. Background of Study The researcher conducted this study at a suburban high school of approximately 1,390 students in St. Louis, Missouri. The school’s demographics, which were downloaded Table 1 Overall Student Demographics of the High School in this Study Demographic Group % African-American 84% Caucasian 13% Other Ethnicity 3% Eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch

62% Special Education Students 16%

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 4

from the school’s student information system, are shown in Table 1. This school has not met the state or federal requirements for attendance for the past 5 years. Both the State of Missouri’s Annual Performance Report (APR) and the United States Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report have set a goal of 93% Average Daily Attendance (ADA). The state uses the APR rating to determine whether they will grant accreditation to the district. The high school used in this study has consistently had an ADA ranging between 89.1%-92.4% and, therefore, has not met this standard for accreditation. 88 88.5 89 89.5 90 90.5 91 91.5 92 92.5 Attendance Rate 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 Year

Figure 1. Average daily attendance over the past 5 years

At the time of this study, the high school had an Attendance Contract system to address the issues of truancy and nonattendance. This program consisted of three steps. The first step was that the administration mailed home a letter when a student accrued 3 days of unexcused absences. This letter notified the parent of the absences and of the district attendance policy. Second, when a student accrued 5 days of unexcused absences, a parent conference was held (or, in many cases, attempted) during which an administrator talked with the student and parent(s) about why the student had been missing school and the importance of attending school. At this point, the administrator also notified the student and parent that continued unexcused absences might result in the district either dropping or

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 5

suspending the student from school for nonattendance. For students who were under the age of 16, the administrator also sent a truancy referral to the St. Louis Family Court. This information was communicated to parents in a letter mailed to the home address. Finally, upon the eighth unexcused absence, according to school district policy, the school either dropped students from school or suspended them depending on their ages (students 16 years of age and over were dropped, while students 15 years old and younger were suspended for nonattendance). However, this policy was not uniformly enforced. In most cases, the administrator would try to work with the student and his or her family for quite some time to improve his or her attendance before finally making the decision to drop or suspend the student for nonattendance. Over the past 5 years, an average of 32 students have been suspended each year for issues of nonattendance; however, that number does not include the many students who have been dropped from school because of absence. Several years ago, school officials implemented an Attendance Incentive Program to try to increase the school's ADA. A committee of teachers developed the program, and it has essentially remained the same since its inception, with only minor changes regarding attendance prizes. The school’s Attendance Incentive Program focused on students with perfect attendance or students with at least 95% attendance. At the end of each quarter, the students with either perfect attendance for that quarter or with at least 95% attendance for that quarter were given a small incentive during lunch, such as a free soda or a free snack. They were then entered into a drawing for a larger attendance prize, such as a $50 or $25 gift certificate to the local mall. Two students received these prizes at the end of each quarter, one with perfect attendance and one with at least 95% attendance. At the end of the

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 6

school year, any student who had perfect attendance for the entire year had their choice of a $50 gift certificate to the mall, a theme park season pass, or the Major League Baseball stadium. These programs had been ineffective in raising the school’s ADA. Therefore, school leaders were looking for new ideas and a new approach to the problem of attendance. Research Questions The intents of this sequential mixed method study were to determine the most significant causes of student nonattendance, as well as determine the relationship between student attendance and achievement. In the study, the school’s student management system (AS400) was used to obtain the number of days students were absent from school during the first semester of the 2009-10 school year and the respective semester GPAs of those students. The researcher conducted statistical analyses to determine the relationship between the number of days students were absent from school during that time and the students’ GPAs during the same period. At the same time, the researcher qualitatively explored the causes for student nonattendance using a questionnaire that she developed for the purpose of this study. To understand the problem in its entirety, she examined both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative Research Question What is the relationship between student attendance and student achievement? Independent Variable The independent variable was the number of days the students participating in the study were absent from school during first semester of the 2009-10 school year.

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 7

Dependent Variable The dependent variable in this study was the GPA of each student involved in the study. Because the researcher examined a specific semester’s attendance, the GPA that she used was also specific to that semester. Hypothesis There is a statistically significant negative correlation between student attendance (number of absences in one semester) and student achievement (as measured by GPA on a 4-point scale during that same semester). Therefore, the more days a student is absent during a semester (independent variable), the lower that student’s GPA (dependent variable) will be for that same semester. Null Hypothesis

There is not a statistically significant negative correlation between student attendance (number of absences in one semester) and student achievement (as measured by GPA on a 4-point scale during that same semester). Qualitative Research Question Which are more noteworthy causes of student nonattendance: factors related to students' home environments and family backgrounds or factors related to school culture and environment? Hypothesis Factors related to students’ home environments and family backgrounds are more noteworthy causes of student nonattendance than factors related to school culture and environment, as measured by proportional responses to questionnaire categories.

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 8

Null Hypothesis

Factors related to students’ home environments and family backgrounds are not more noteworthy causes of student nonattendance than factors related to school culture and environment, as measured by proportional responses to questionnaire categories. Significance of the Study According to Sheldon and Epstein (2004), 15% of teachers in public schools see nonattendance as a major problem. Reid (2008) concluded that staffs working in schools are not equipped to handle the nonattendance problem. Staff members agreed that managing student attendance was a time-consuming activity. The fact that most school officials and teachers lack education in this area makes it difficult to fight the problem (Reid). This study could serve to increase knowledge about causes of nonattendance and the relationship between attendance and student achievement. This knowledge may make it easier for teachers and administrators at the school to work with and build relationships with students and their parents. Because some research indicates (Davies & Lee, 2006) that schools play a large role in influencing student attendance, school officials could use the qualitative data from this study to make changes to the school climate, making it a more student-centered environment. Furthermore, if school personnel become more adept at working with students on issues of attendance and, in turn, the rate of attendance at the school improves, this may also correlate to an improvement in overall student achievement. Research also shows that there is a correlation between truancy/nonattendance and risk behaviors (Henry, 2007); hence, increasing student attendance may inadvertently lead to a decrease in student engagement in risk behaviors in and outside of school.

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 9

Moreover, schools are judged on their Average Daily Attendance at both the state (APR) and federal (AYP) levels. Both of these measures have a standard that schools need to meet. The high school in this study has never met the standard at either the state or federal level. Ideally, school officials would use the data from this study to help the school progress towards meeting those state and federal standards. Finally, school officials may use the information gleaned from this research to develop programs at the high school in this study (and other similar schools) that will help increase student attendance. These programs may include things like revising the current attendance policies and procedures, making changes to the existing attendance incentive program or creating a new attendance incentive program, professional development programs for teachers, and parental involvement initiatives. The school may also use these results to make additional changes. The high school in this study is not unique in its problems with attendance. This area is a challenge for schools all over the country. Therefore, similar high schools may also be interested in using the information from this study to address issues of nonattendance in their schools. Limitations Parental Consent Forms Due to the fact that most of the students were minors, the researcher needed signed parental consent forms for the students before they could complete the survey. The researcher attempted to control this limitation by utilizing the schools TeleParent system to inform parents about the study and the need for their children to return the consent form to

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 10

school. However, 65% of the students did not return the required permission slip and, therefore, could not participate. Attendance The researcher was not able to collect data from students who were absent on the day the survey was conducted. Hence, because the researcher was attempting to learn more about those absentee students, the survey results could be biased because of the self-selected sample. Students Who Drop Out The researcher was not able to collect data from students who dropped out of school. Most students who dropped out of school probably began as students who had poor attendance, thus further biasing the results of the study. Loss of Participants (Mortality) Another limitation of this study is the loss of students during the duration of the study. Due to the high mobility rate of students in this community, a few of the students who completed the survey in October had transferred schools before the end of the semester. A few other students had been suspended from school before the end of the semester. Therefore, the researcher could not collect GPA and attendance data for those students. Timeframe of Study Because the attendance and GPA data was limited to data from one semester, the results of the study may be biased. It is possible that a small number of students who participated in the study had either an unusually good or an unusually bad semester in terms of their grades and/or attendance, biasing the results in either direction.

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 11

Socioeconomic Status of Population Due to the lower socioeconomic status of the students in the study, the results of this study may not be applicable to more affluent student populations. Sample Demographics The researcher completed this study at one suburban high school in St. Louis, Missouri. Therefore, the results may be biased due to specific circumstances within that school community. Furthermore, the results may not be entirely accurate when applied to other schools, districts, or geographic locations. Student Completion of the Survey The students may not have answered all of the survey questions accurately or honestly, and may not have answered some questions at all. This can lead to biased results or inaccurate results due to a smaller sample size. Student Schedules The participants in this study had a varied mix of core content and elective coursework in their academic schedules. The range of difficulty levels between these courses may have contributed to differences in student GPAs. Instrument The researcher created the survey for the purpose of this study. While she based the survey on previous research, she was not able to test it for reliability or validity before using it in this study. Definition of Terms Absenteeism – Students missing school with parental consent.

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 12

Nonattendance – Students missing school either with or without parental consent. Absenteeism and truancy are both forms of nonattendance. All three terms are used in this study. Typically, when citing a specific study, the author used the term that was used in the original study. When the author was not citing a specific study, she used the term nonattendance except where otherwise appropriate. Student Achievement – Measured by each student’s GPA on a 4-point scale. Truancy – Students missing school without parental consent. Conclusion Nonattendance occurs for many different reasons and may be a result of school- related factors, home-related factors, or a combination of the two. This study seeks to determine which of those factors plays a more important role in student nonattendance at one high school in suburban St. Louis. In addition, nonattendance may have an effect on student achievement. The researcher is working with the hypothesis that there is a statistically significant negative correlation between student attendance and student achievement. However, it is also possible that a statistically significant positive correlation exists between these two variables, or that there is no statistically significant correlation at all. Student attendance is an important issue for both schools and students. Schools are evaluated on their ADA rates at both the state and federal levels, so increasing student attendance is beneficial to the school. Having a high attendance rate is also important for students in terms of student achievement and a decreased risk of engaging in risk behaviors. Therefore, schools are constantly working to improve student attendance. School officials

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 13

will use the results of this research to develop programs at the high school in this study (and other similar schools) that will help increase student attendance. Chapter 2 contains the review of related literature and research related to the problem being investigated. In the literature review, the author discusses attendance studies that have been conducted in the past. She discusses these studies in terms of the various portions of a research study, including the instrumentation and methodologies used in the studies, the populations that participated in the studies, results of the studies, and implications and recommendations based on the findings of those studies. The author also used this literature to create the survey and develop the research methods, which she discusses in detail in Chapter 3.

CAUSES OF NONATTENDANCE 14

CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Background Most educators would agree that a student must attend class in order to achieve academically. However, student attendance is a two-fold concept. Being physically present is only part of what students must do in order to be successful. They must also be mentally prepared for the task (Dougherty, 1999). Student attendance can be both the easiest thing to measure and the most difficult. Schools are required to track ADA rates for both state and federal reporting purposes, and measurement of how often a student is absent for these purposes is relatively simple. However, knowing and understanding students' reasons for nonattendance is much more complex. An endless number of variables can influence whether or not a student is present at school. Many research studies use the words truancy and absenteeism interchangeably; however, some variations do exist between the actual definitions of the two words. Researchers have used the word truancy to define students who are absent from school without parental knowledge or consent (Williams, 2001). Absenteeism, on the other hand, is often a general term used to describe any student that is habitually absent from school. Absenteeism describes students who have parental consent or students whose status of parental consent is unknown (Williams,). Both truancy and absenteeism are forms of nonattendance, and the author uses all three terms in this study. Typically, when citing a specific study, the author uses the term that was used in the original study. When the author is not citing a specific study, she uses the term nonattendance except where otherwise appropriate.

Full document contains 172 pages
Abstract: Many high schools in America have issues with student nonattendance. The researcher designed this mixed methods study to determine the affect of nonattendance on student achievement and to ascertain whether home-related factors or school-related factors were more significant causes of nonattendance. Both the high school in this study and other similar schools may use the results to develop effective nonattendance intervention programs. The researcher used cluster sampling to determine the sample population. She then collected attendance data (the number of absences each student had during one semester) and achievement data (each student's Grade Point Average during that same semester) about each of the participants. To determine the affect of attendance on student achievement, the researcher found the correlation and regression statistics of the two data sets. The author concluded that, at the high school in question, there was a small negative correlation between student attendance and student achievement; therefore, in most cases, the more absences a student had, the lower his or her Grade Point Average. The researcher surveyed the same sample population to ascertain whether home-related factors or school-related factors were more significant causes of nonattendance. The survey consisted of four parts, the first three of which were used to collect information regarding the causes of nonattendance. The final part of the survey was used to collect demographic and family background information from the participants. The researcher concluded that home-related factors were more significant causes of student non-attendance than school-related factors. However, in terms of influencing student attendance, student perceptions of and attitudes about both home and school were found to be equally important. The researcher gleaned some surprising information from the study surveys, the implications of which are vital to solving the problem of nonattendance. The researcher also noted several areas in which her data indicated that further study would be beneficial. These areas include, but are not limited to, parental perceptions and attitudes about school, the impact of race on student attendance, and the relationship between parents' levels of education and student attendance.