Frontiers in Psychology
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School attendance problems are highly prevalent worldwide, leading researchers to investigate many different risk factors for this population. Of considerable controversy is how internalizing behavior problems might help to distinguish different types of youth with school attendance problems. In addition, efforts are ongoing to identify the point at which children and adolescents move from appropriate school attendance to problematic school absenteeism. The present study utilized ensemble and classification and regression tree analysis to identify potential internalizing behavior risk factors among youth at different levels of school absenteeism severity (i.e., 1+%, 3+%, 5+%, 10+%). Higher levels of absenteeism were also examined on an exploratory basis. Participants included 160 youth aged 6–19 years (M = 13.7; SD = 2.9) and their families from an outpatient therapy clinic (39.4%) and community (60.6%) setting, the latter from a family court and truancy diversion program cohort. One particular item relating to lack of enjoyment was most predictive of absenteeism severity at different levels, though not among the highest levels. Other internalizing items were also predictive of various levels of absenteeism severity, but only in a negatively endorsed fashion. Internalizing symptoms of worry and fatigue tended to be endorsed higher across less severe and more severe absenteeism severity levels. A general expectation that predictors would tend to be more homogeneous at higher than lower levels of absenteeism severity was not generally supported. The results help confirm the difficulty of conceptualizing this population based on forms of behavior but may support the need for early warning sign screening for youth at risk for school attendance problems.
Absenteeism severity; Truancy; Ensemble analysis; Classification and regression tree analysis; Youth internalizing; Risk variables
Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
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Fornander, M. J.,
Kearney, C. A.
Internalizing Symptoms as Predictors of School Absenteeism Severity at Multiple Levels: Ensemble and Classification and Regression Tree Analysis.
Frontiers in Psychology, 10