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19-09-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2016

Journal of Child and Family Studies 4/2016

The Heterogeneity of Truancy among Urban Middle School Students: A Latent Class Growth Analysis

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 4/2016
Chin-Chih Chen, Dennis P. Culhane, Stephen Metraux, Jung Min Park, Jessica C. Venable


This longitudinal study explores heterogeneity of middle school students by identifying subgroups of youth characterized by distinct truancy trajectories and by determining disability profiles that distinguish these subgroups. Participants comprised an entire 7th through 9th grade student population, with approximately 58,000 students, in a large urban school district. Latent class growth analysis was used to identify subgroups of truant youth. This analysis yielded five distinct truant subgroups: Very-Low (37 %), Low (43.4 %), Declining (3.3 %), Rising (12.8 %), and Chronic (3.6 %). Further, differential disability profiles were found in each subgroup with the control of demographic characteristics (i.e., gender, race/ethnicity, free/reduced lunch, Limited English Proficiency, grade, and prior school absences), students with serious emotional disturbance and learning disabilities demonstrated amplified risks of being classified in the Chronic or Rising subgroups, which show chronic or incremental upward truant trajectories over time. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for future research.

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