Building momentum for reducing chronic absenteeism

Posted on January 24, 2018

For years, ACNJ has been leading the charge to reduce chronic absenteeism in schools across New Jersey. Recently, a landmark school attendance bill unanimously passed both houses of the New Jersey legislature requiring that schools keep track of chronically absent students and that schools with high absenteeism develop plans to improve attendance. But in an outgoing act, Governor Christie failed to sign the bill into law.

Though disappointed, ACNJ has already achieved big wins for New Jersey’s kids and will keep the momentum towards making sure more kids come to school every day. The fact that this bipartisan legislation unanimously passed both houses shows how far this issue has come in just a few short years.

ACNJ has kept up the drumbeat on chronic absenteeism with multiple reports, forums, focus groups and professional development for school staff and community programs. Communities and schools across the state are looking at their absenteeism data and developing solutions. The result is that more kids are regularly attending school.

In building support for this legislation and other efforts to support student attendance, ACNJ strengthened partnerships with diverse groups such as NJPTA, NJSACC, Jersey CAN, Paterson Education Fund, NJSSNA, the League of Women Voters, SPAC and NJASA, and most importantly schools and communities across the state that are tackling absenteeism. These efforts have been highlighted in ACNJ reports and show the way forward for New Jersey.

Links to ACNJ’s reports
Third annual statewide report on absenteeism
Report on high school absenteeism in Newark
Video from ACNJ’s most recent forum on chronic absenteeism, featuring Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, the main sponsor of the bill

Resources for schools and communities
NJDOE guidance on reporting and calculating chronic absenteeism
Toolkits from Attendance Works, a national organization committed to improving student attendance
Video on Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School in Trenton dramatic reduction of its chronic absenteeism rate

ACNJ has worked hard to make student absences a priority for New Jersey and we applaud the key sponsors of this bipartisan bill, Sen. Diane Allen and Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle.

ACNJ is eager to continue the hard work ahead in engaging policymakers, educators, parents and communities across New Jersey, so that more students are regularly attending school and on the right track towards educational success!