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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02623

Measuring school absenteeism: Administrative attendance data collected by schools differ from self-reports in systematic ways.

  • 1Vrije University Brussel, Belgium
  • 2KU Leuven, Belgium

In order to use attendance monitoring within an integrative strategy for preventing, assessing and addressing cases of youth with school absenteeism, we need to know whether the attendance data collected by schools cover all students with (emerging) school attendance problems (SAP). The current article addresses this issue by comparing administrative attendance data collected by schools with self-reported attendance data from the same group of students (age 15-16) in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (N = 4344). We seek to answer the following question: does an estimation of unauthorized absenteeism based on attendance data as collected by schools through electronic registration differ from self-reported unauthorized absenteeism and if so, are the differences between administrative and self-reported unauthorized absenteeism systematic? Our results revealed a weak association between self-reported unauthorized school absenteeism and registered unauthorized school absenteeism. Boys, students in technical and vocational tracks and students who speak a foreign language at home, with a less-educated mother and who receive a school allowance received more registered unauthorized absences than they reported themselves. In addition, pupils with school refusal and who were often authorized absent from school received more registered unauthorized absences compared to their self-reported unauthorized school absenteeism. In the discussion, we elaborate on the implications of our findings.

Keywords: school attendance problems, Early identification, truancy, school refusal, School withdrawal, attendance data

Received: 26 Jun 2019; Accepted: 06 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Keppens, Spruyt and Dockx. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Gil Keppens, Vrije University Brussel, Brussels, Belgium, Gil.Keppens@vub.be