Thesis

Ninth Grade Girls Self-Reporting of Chronic Absenteeism Rationale: A Practical Study to Inform Administrative Planning

Chronic absenteeism rates are on the rise across the United States. Without a pattern of attendance, students are unlikely to develop the foundation of skills including literacy, work ethic, and relationship building necessary for successful individuals and social contributors. Research reflects the correlation between chronic absenteeism and social dysfunction in adulthood. This study aims to describe the cause of chronic absenteeism through the selfreporting of those people most affected by this alarming trend: the students themselves. The survey of ninety students and the more intimate interviews of eight students have generated the data for which the analysis of this study rests. The survey and interview data reveal salient information generated from those closest to the central issue, and it is data that may have, heretofore, been taken for granted or even ignored by policy and program leaders. The voices of the often “silent” participants (Creswell, 2007, p. 40), those whose lives are most affected by policy and program development are the focus of this research. The data analysis, which points to the risk factors of this study’s focus group, correlates with previous studies. Furthermore, this study’s findings indicate the imperative nature of student input regarding the development of policy and curricular programming. This study recommends that educational leadership teams addressing chronic absenteeism must consider students perspectives on the issue, and must also limit assumptions. This must be accomplished through relationship building and the development of collaboration among all stakeholders, including students, parents and guardians, and school staff. For, if all stakeholders feel their voices are heard and their perspectives are valued, their self-reporting becomes more thorough, thoughtful, and credible. Programs development that is informed by such an egalitarian process rather than a unilateral process, will increase engagement of all those involved and decrease chronic absenteeism.

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