Primary School Truancy: Risk Factors and Consequences for Subsequent Dropout
Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 9:10 AM
Japengo (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Over a decade ago, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention identified truancy reduction as a national priority, yet today chronic absenteeism continues to be one of the greatest threats to successful education of children. Despite its importance, the etiology of truancy—particularly its occurrence in primary school—remains relatively understudied. To better understand risk factors and consequences of primary school truancy, analysis of two longitudinal datasets known as the Fast Track (N= 754) and Child Development Projects (N=585) was undertaken. These datasets are particularly valuable for this work as they employ the same measures of child and family functioning immediately preceding school entry in a broad array of domains. Parallel and integrative data analysis of both datasets is employed to elucidate persistent risk and protective factors across educational periods, settings, and sub-populations. The mediational role of secondary school truancy on the relationship between primary school truancy and dropout is tested. Evidence of partial mediation is found (Sobel= 5.64, p = .001). Individual risk and protective factors for primary and secondary truancy are presented and contrasted. In particular, we consider the persistent role of childhood emotion regulation and family resources (e.g., maternal education and income) on truancy across schooling. Further, evidence for the unique relationship between primary school truancy and dropout is discussed.