On June 26th, all 40 of New Jersey’s State Senators voted unanimously in favor of S447, the Chronic Absenteeism Bill!
With 147,000 or 10.5 percent of the state’s PreK-12th graders identified as chronically absent in the 2015-2016 school year, this bill is a strong first-step in improving school attendance. The bill ensures that every district is using the same definition when measuring student absences and requires that all School Report Cards include data on chronic absenteeism so that the public can be apprised of whether schools in their communities are struggling with too many students missing too much school.
Lastly, the bill moves from just reporting data to ensuring action by requiring schools with 10 percent or more of their students identified as being chronically absent to develop a chronic absenteeism plan, which must include parent input. S447 recognizes, in a non-punitive way, that even schools that are struggling with high absentee rates can make a difference in turning the tide on those rates with a clear plan and a concerted effort.
Thanks to Senator Diane Allen’s (R-7) leadership in sponsoring the bill and shepherding it through the Senate, it is now headed to the Assembly Education Committee for hearings.