Title

Investigating Truancy in Secondary Schools

Date of Degree

12-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program

Education

Advisor

Dorothy Ettling

Advisor

Richard Henderson

Advisor

Absael Antelo

Abstract

This qualitative case study investigates the perceptions of parents and students in one particular high school in an urban area located in the southwestern region of the United States in order to gain insight as to why truancy occurs, what causes it, and what can be done to prevent it. This study utilized an ethnographic case study design methodology using in-depth interviews and use of a survey questionnaire as the primary research strategy. The focus was on the participants' perceptions of their experiences in the educational system, the reasons they gave and how they evaluated their experiences as they moved through the system. The study was conducted at only one high school campus which was a member of an independent school district consisting of seven high school campuses. The participants were truant students who attended Saturday School in order to makeup time loss due to excessive absences. These students were in jeopardy of losing credit in classes where they had exceeded the number of absences required by the state attendance laws in order to gain credit. As the need for high school education increases, issues of truancy continue to be of importance, especially among minority populations in the United States. The focus on "at-risk" students has stipulated discussion on how to keep these students from dropping out, concentrating on students who succeed despite the odds against their success. These students are order to makeup time loss due to excessive absences. These students were in jeopardy of losing credit in classes where they had exceeded the number of absences required by the state attendance laws in order to gain credit. As the need for high school education increases, issues of truancy continue to be of importance, especially among minority populations in the United States. The focus on "at-risk" students has stipulated discussion on how to keep these students from dropping out, concentrating on students who succeed despite the odds against their success. These students are often low income first-generation students who have minimum preparation for college coursework and no role models for college success in their families. While academic efficacy is often associated with school success, truancy has also been identified as a major contributing factor to student failure. Four dominant themes emerged from the analysis of the interviews conducted: student conditions, family conditions, school conditions, and community conditions. A majority of all the students identified peer pressure and lack of interest in certain classes as factors which influenced their decision to skip class. The fact that it was so easy to leave campus and lack of consequences were also mentioned by several participants as factors which contributed significantly to their truancy. The researcher will analyze the results of the study to suggest strategies that could be effective in future efforts to eliminate truancy.

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