By Dana Hurley

The College of Education invites you to attend a doctoral dissertation defense by Dana Hurley on “Factors Contributing to Chronic Absenteeism for Students of Color.”

Candidate Name: Dana Hurley
Degree: Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
Defense Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Zoom Meeting ID: 714 282 2169
Dissertation Title: Factors Contributing to Chronic Absenteeism for Students of Color

Committee Members

  • Advisor Stacy Szczesiul, Associate Dean of Online Education, Accreditation & Licensing FAHSS; Associate Professor, School of Education
  • Phitsamay Uy, Associate Professor, Leadership in Schooling; Graduate Coordinator for Ed.D Programs; Co-Director of Center for Asian American Studies
  • Greg Passeri Scholar in Practice, College of Education; Principal, Lowell STEM Academy


Millions of children are chronically absent from school every year. Chronic absenteeism leads to a host of problems, including poor academic achievement, stunted social-emotional growth, lower graduation rates, and potential future engagement in at-risk behaviors. This problem is magnified for students of color compared to their White peers. This mixed methods study examined potential factors contributing to chronic absenteeism for students of color in one urban elementary school. The study is framed through the lens of critical race theory and posits that all factors contributing to chronic absenteeism for students of color are based in systemic and historical racism. This study included a survey and focus group interviews to understand why students were absent. Results showed that health-related absences were the main factor leading to chronic absenteeism. This study concludes that, while absenteeism may be inevitable, schools should provide academic and social-emotional interventions to close gaps related to attendance and exacerbated by systemic racism.

Keywords: critical race theory, chronic absenteeism, urban education, students of color, elementary school