Student absenteeism can lead to low academic achievement, dropping out of school, delinquency and gang involvement. School districts that have established multi-systemic approaches and policies pertaining to student absenteeism typically experience fewer numbers of dropouts and a greater number of graduates.
The compulsory education law (N.J.S.A. 18A:38-28 through 31) requires all children between the ages of 6-16 to attend school. The attendance regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.6), require each district board of education to develop, adopt and implement policies and procedures regarding the attendance of students, including the adoption of a definition of "unexcused absence" that counts towards truancy. While the regulations allow for the parent to be referred to municipal court for a truant child, consideration should be made to refer or coordinate with a community-based social and health provider agency, other community resource, or the juvenile/family crisis intervention unit (FCIU). For more information contact the FCIU in your area.
Resources for Educators
- Early Warning Systems
- Edutopia, Social-Emotional Learning
- Mentoring: A Critical Support Strategy for Youth Career Engagement and Workforce Development
- MENTOR – The National Mentoring Partnership
- Student Attendance Policies and Procedures Compliance Checklist
- Student Engagement Project
- Tips to Consider When Talking to Parents about Attendance
- Tool Kit for Creating Your Own Truancy Reduction
- Making the Grade: Assessing the Evidence for Integrated Student Supports
- National Center for School Engagement, Research and Publications
- NJDOE Final Report of the Study Group on Later School Start Times, P.L. 2015, c. 96
Guidance for Reporting Student Attendance for Chronic Absenteeism
This guidance clarifies policies and expectations for reporting student membership and attendance data in NJ SMART and the methodology for measuring chronic absenteeism. Districts should review their locally-developed attendance data collection system or work with their Student Information System (SIS) vendors to make sure they are in compliance with attendance reporting requirements as outlined in this guidance.
Guidance for Reporting Student Absences and Calculating Chronic Absenteeism(Revised February 2021)
Strategies for Addressing Chronic Absenteeism
To support schools' efforts to combat chronic absenteeism the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has developed the following document to provide schools and districts with proactive ideas and strategies to engage educators, families and the community in an effort to improve student attendance.
Resources for Educators
- Alternatives to Suspension
- Strategies to Reduce Chronic Absence
- Tackling Chronic Absenteeism You-Tube Video
- Addressing the Health-Related Causes of Chronic Absenteeism: A Toolkit for Action
- Every Student, Every Day: A Community Toolkit to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism
School dropout is a complex and multi-systemic issue. Therefore, the strategies and resources for both the prevention and reengagement of student dropouts are diverse. Provided below are resources and information on school dropouts.
- Administrative Office of the Courts
- New Jersey Department of Children and Families
- New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Juvenile Justice Commission
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
- United States Department of Education, Safe & Supportive Schools
- United States Department of Justice, Community Capacity Development Office
- N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25 Attendance required of children between six and 16;
- N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25.1 Requires school districts to develop a corrective action plan if 10 percent or more of their students are chronically absent
- N.J.S.A. 18A:38-26 Days when attendance required
- N.J.S.A. 18A:38-27 Truancy and juvenile delinquency defined
- N.J.S.A. 18A:38-28 Truants; return to parents or school
- N.J.S.A. 18A:38-29 Warning and arrest of vagrants or habitual truants
- N.J.S.A. 18A:38-30 Assistance of sheriffs, police officers, etc.
- N.J.S.A. 18A:38-31 Failure to comply with provisions of article; fine
- N.J.S.A. 18A:38-32 District and county vocational school attendance officers
The following regulations can be found on the NJDOE Administrative Code page:
- N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.6, Attendance
- N.J.A.C. 6A:32-8.3, School attendance