New Jersey Department of Education

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Keeping Our Students Safe, Healthy & In School

Attendance, Truancy & Chronic Absenteeism

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.

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.

Getting Students to School: Strategies for Improving Attendance and Reducing Chronic Absenteeism (Released May 2018)

Information and Resources

Information and resources for the prevention and remediation of attendance problems can be found below in the following resources:

Government Agencies


  • All References below can be found at the New Jersey Legislature's website or at Rutgers School of Law:

    • N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25 Attendance required of children between six and 16;
    • 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



Resources for Educators


Other Health-Related Efforts

Organizations and Initiatives

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