Integrating Systemic and Analytic Approaches to School Attendance Problems: Synergistic Frameworks for Research and Policy Directions

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Child and Youth Care Forum

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Background: School attendance and school attendance problems are complex and significant indicators of child and adolescent health and development. The study of school attendance/problems has a rich history but one that has bifurcated into detached systemic and analytic approaches. Objective: Integrative heuristic frameworks are pursued to enhance synergy regarding school attendance/problems via shared conceptual schemas, cohesive organization of key variables, fundamental evolutionary processes, assimilated measurement tools, and coordinated intercession strategies. Method: Five major domains (and themes) of the school attendance/problems literature are presented to juxtapose systemic and analytic approaches in this area: core constructs (dimensional and categorical), influencing factors (distal and proximal), trajectories (continuous and discontinuous), measurement (evaluation and assessment), and intercession (intervention and treatment). Results: Systemic and analytic approaches to each major domain of school attendance/problems contain key commonalities for integrative heuristic frameworks. These frameworks include symbiotic categorical-dimensional orientations defining core constructs, shared domain architectures and ecological levels linking distal and proximal influencing factors, developmental cascade pathways accounting for continuous and discontinuous trajectories, nuanced early warning systems and data mining algorithms blending evaluation and assessment, and multi-tiered systems of support incorporating broad interventions and specific treatments. Conclusions: Only by encompassing all valid panoramic and immersive perspectives and best practices can researchers, educators, policymakers, families, and other stakeholders fully comprehend and address the complicated ecosystem of school attendance/problems. Such integration is also necessary to effectively draw all youth, and particularly marginalized youth, into the educational process.


School attendance; School attendance problems; School absenteeism; Truancy; School dropout; Developmental cascade; Early warning system; Multi-tiered systems of support


Educational Administration and Supervision



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