Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Dennis Lawrence


This study addressed the problem of poor attendance adversely affecting grades and learning. Current school policies do not address problematic attendance for all school-aged children, perpetuating trends of academic failure. The research objective was to determine if unexcused absences had a greater negative impact on a high-stakes test compared to excused absences and then develop a manual of best attendance policies to better serve all school-aged children. This study sampled 10,403 students in a southern United States county. Bivariate regression and ANOVA analyses examined the scores students earned on their first attempt at the Social Studies Georgia High School Graduation Test (SSGHSGT) in relation to these students' excused and unexcused absences for grades 9 through 11. Unexcused absences had a significantly greater impact than excused absences on SSGHSGT scores. Scores decreased an average of 1.33 points for every unexcused absence, whereas each excused absence resulted in a score reduction of only 0.47 points. Given the need demonstrated by these results, a manual of best practices was developed from initiatives that had been empirically proven successful in preventing absences. The initiatives, drawn from the theoretical foundation of family systems, employ schools, parents, neighborhoods, peers, government agencies, and teachers to cumulatively influence student decisions about attendance. By preventing students from developing problematic attendance, positively impacting student grades, raising graduation rates, and reducing delinquency-related crimes these improvements can create a positive social change for students, parents, and particularly school personnel who are held responsible for academic achievement.