Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Michelle G. Paul
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
Study 1: School attendance is an important foundational competency for children and adolescents, and school absenteeism has been linked to myriad short- and long-term negative consequences, even into adulthood. Many efforts have been made to conceptualize and address this population across various categories and dimensions of functioning and across multiple disciplines, resulting in both a rich literature base and a splintered view regarding this population. This article (Part 1 of 2) reviews and critiques key categorical and dimensional approaches to conceptualizing school attendance and school absenteeism, with an eye toward reconciling these approaches (Part 2 of 2) to develop a roadmap for preventative and intervention strategies, early warning systems and nimble response, global policy review, dissemination and implementation, and adaptations to future changes in education and technology. This article sets the stage for a discussion of a multidimensional, multi-tiered system of supports pyramid model as a heuristic framework for conceptualizing the manifold aspects of school attendance and school absenteeism.
Study 2: School attendance problems, including school absenteeism, are common to many students worldwide, and frameworks to better understand these heterogeneous students include multiple classes or tiers of intertwined risk factors as well as interventions. Recent studies have iii thus examined risk factors at varying levels of absenteeism severity to demarcate distinctions among these tiers. Prior studies in this regard have focused more on demographic and academic variables and less on family environment risk factors that are endemic to this population. The present study utilized ensemble and classification and regression tree analysis to identify potential family environment risk factors among youth (i.e., children and adolescents) 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 341 youth aged 5–17 years (M = 12.2; SD = 3.3) and their families from an outpatient therapy clinic (68.3%) and community (31.7%) setting, the latter from a family court and truancy diversion program cohort. Family environment risk factors tended to be more circumscribed and informative at higher levels of absenteeism, with greater diversity at lower levels. Higher levels of absenteeism appear more closely related to lower achievement orientation, active-recreational orientation, cohesion, and expressiveness, though several nuanced results were found as well. Absenteeism severity levels of 10–15% may be associated more with qualitative changes in family functioning. These data may support a Tier 2-Tier 3 distinction in this regard and may indicate the need for specific family-based intervention goals at higher levels of absenteeism severity.
Study 3: 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 iv 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; family environment; multi-tiered system of supports; school absenteeism; school refusal; truancy
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Fornander, Mirae J., "Defining Problematic School Absenteeism: Identifying Youth at Risk" (2021). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 4242.
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