A multiple case study exploring middle school attendance barriers and challenges.


Regular school attendance is an imperative factor in school success (Pascopella, 2007; Rothman, 2001). Students achieve best when invested in their education. Four misconceptions result in student absenteeism: myths about attendance, barriers to attendance, aversions to school, and disengagement from school (Attendance Works, 2014b). Many families believe it is okay for students to miss a day or two and think attendance only matters in high school. Chronic absenteeism has increased in schools where students feel unsafe, lack basic needs, experience trauma or chronic illness, or provide care for family members (Railsback, 2004). This research investigated the impact of middle school student attendance and examined the hindrances that challenge regular school attendance. This multiple case study applied a thematic analysis to interpret the research findings. The study focused on students who have excessive absences and are at-risk of not meeting their academic growth achievements. The research questions were: How do students describe their challenges with attendance and overcome obstacles, in reach of academic achievement? How has the Positive Behavior Interventions Support system (PBIS) framework assisted students in overcoming and reducing chronic absenteeism? The researcher used the Positive Behavior Interventions Support system (PBIS) theoretical framework influenced by B.F. Skinner’s (1953) Behaviorism Theory to inform the study. The PBIS framework applied consequences and rewards for positive and negative behaviors that influenced behavior (Sugai & Homer, 2006). This study investigated five cases of chronic absenteeism, and through an analysis of data, individual and common themes emerged. This study utilized data collected from participants’ one-on-one interviews, family questionnaires, and agency records. The participants provided insights into their lived experiences. The findings revealed the complexity of each participant’s experiences and highlighted the influence their home life factors have on their regular school attendance. The findings also indicated that participants seek to overcome their challenges to succeed academically.



School attendance. Chronic absenteeism. Attendance barriers. Attendance challenges. Attendance obstacles.