The Heterogeneity of Truancy among Urban Middle School Students: A Latent Class Growth Analysis
This longitudinal study explores heterogeneity of middle school students by identifying subgroups of youth characterized by distinct truancy trajectories and by determining disability profiles that distinguish these subgroups. Participants comprised an entire 7th through 9th grade student population, with approximately 58,000 students, in a large urban school district. Latent class growth analysis was used to identify subgroups of truant youth. This analysis yielded five distinct truant subgroups: Very-Low (37 %), Low (43.4 %), Declining (3.3 %), Rising (12.8 %), and Chronic (3.6 %). Further, differential disability profiles were found in each subgroup with the control of demographic characteristics (i.e., gender, race/ethnicity, free/reduced lunch, Limited English Proficiency, grade, and prior school absences), students with serious emotional disturbance and learning disabilities demonstrated amplified risks of being classified in the Chronic or Rising subgroups, which show chronic or incremental upward truant trajectories over time. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for future research.
KeywordsTruancy Unexcused absences Urban middle school students Disabilities
- Aud, S., Hussar, W., Johnson, F., Kena, G., Roth, E., Manning, E., Wang, X., and Zhang, J. (2012). The condition of education 2012 (NCES 2012-045). Washington, DC: US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved June 6, 2013, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.
- Baker, M. L., Sigmon, J. N., & Nugent, M. E. (2001). Truancy reduction: Keeping students in school. Bulletin of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, September 1–15.Google Scholar
- Balfanz, R., & Byrnes, V. (2012). Chronic absenteeism: Summarizing what we know from nationally available data. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools.Google Scholar
- Cairns, R. B., & Cairns, B. D. (1994). Lifelines and risks: Pathways of youth in our time. New York, NY: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
- Cairns, R. B., & Rodkin, P. C. (1998). Phenomena regained: From configurations to pathways. In R. B. Cairns & L. R. Bergman (Eds.), Methods and models for studying the individual (pp. 245–265). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
- Chang, H. N., & Romero, M. (2008). Present, engaged, and accounted for: The critical importance of addressing chronic absence in the early grades. Report. New York, NY: National Center for Children in Poverty.Google Scholar
- Culhane, D. P., Fantuzzo, J., Rouse, H. L., Tam, V., & Lukens, J. (2010). Connecting the dots: The promise of integrated data systems for policy analysis and systems reform. Intelligence for Social Policy: University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
- Finlay, K. A. (2006). Reengaging youth in school: Evaluation of the truancy reduction demonstration project. Denver, CO: Colorado Foundation for Families and Children.Google Scholar
- Gottfried, M. A. (2009). Excused versus unexcused: How student absences in elementary school affect academic achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 31(4), 392–415.Google Scholar
- Gottfried, M. A. (2011). Absent peers in elementary years: The negative classroom effects of unexcused absences on standardized testing outcomes. Teachers College Record, 113(8), 1597–1632.Google Scholar
- Henry, K. L. (2010). Skipping school and using drugs: A brief report. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 17(5), 650–657.Google Scholar
- Metraux, S., Garcia, A., Chen, C., Park, Y.-M., & Culhane, D. (2013). Understanding multi-system youth and their patterns of service use. Philadelphia, PA: Stoneleigh Foundation.Google Scholar
- National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Indicator 28: Student absenteeism. In The condition of education, 2012 (pp. 72–73, 222–223). (NCES 2012-045). Washington DC: US Department of Education. Retrieved January 31, 2013, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.
- Newman, L., Davies, E., & Marder, C. (2003). School engagement of youth with disabilities. In National Center for Special Education Research, National Longitudinal Transition Study 2: Achievements of youth with disabilities in secondary school (pp. 3.1–3.14). Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://www.nlts2.org/reports/2003_11/nlts2_report_2003_11_complete.pdf.
- Scanlon, D., & Mellard, D. (2002). Academic and participation profiles of school-age dropouts with and without disabilities. Exceptional Children, 68(2), 239–258.Google Scholar
- Sheldon, S. B., & Epstein, J. L. (2004). Getting students to school: Using family and community involvement to reduce chronic absenteeism. School Community Journal, 14, 39–56.Google Scholar
- Sinclair, M. F., Christenson, S. L., Evelo, D. L., & Hurley, C. M. (1998). Dropout prevention for youth with disabilities: Efficacy of a sustained school engagement procedure. Exceptional Children, 65, 7–21.Google Scholar
- Sinclair, M. F., Christenson, S. L., & Thurlow, M. L. (2005). Promoting school completion of urban secondary youth with emotional or behavioral disabilities. Exceptional Children, 71(4), 465–482.Google Scholar
- Wagner, M., Marder, C., Blackorby, J., Cameto, R., Newman, L., Levine, P., & Davies-Mercier, E. (with Chorost, M., Garza, N., Guzman, A., & Sumi, C.) (2003). The achievements of youth with disabilities during secondary school. A report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International. www.nlts2.org.