Every Student Succeed Act is the most recent version of federal education law replacing No Child Left Behind. The New Jersey Department of Education selected chronic absenteeism as its measure of school quality and student success for the ESSA accountability plan. Chronic Absenteeism is defined as being absent for 10% or more of the days enrolled during the school year. A student who is not present for any reason, excused, unexcused or for disciplinary action, is considered absent unless permitted by statute or regulation. The question that we have to ask ourselves “Are children on track for success if they are chronically absent”? The answer is no. The district is also trying to get kids on grade-level reading by 3rd grade but if they are not in school they can’t learn.
Looking at these numbers we noticed that suspensions and chronic absenteeism are correlated in some schools, while in others they are not. This raises some questions. One question is, how can the percent of students suspended be significantly higher than the percent of students who missed at least 1 day? What the data doesn’t tell us is whether or not the kids that are chronically absent are the same ones that are suspended. The district has the ability to track each student, but that information is not available to the public, obviously due to privacy.
Research shows that student absences impact a child’s ability to succeed in school. The data clearly shows that the numbers for both chronic absenteeism and suspensions are alarming high for the high schools. We continue to advocate for alternatives to suspensions and the ending of zero tolerance, both of which lead to student push-out and fuel the school to prison pipeline. We continue to encourage the District to implement a district-wide policy around reducing out of school suspensions. We believe that “Restorative Justice”, “Positive Behavior Support In Schools”, Mediation and Mindfulness are very effective tools that can be used.
We are encouraging you, as parents/guardians to make sure that your child shows up to school daily. We as a community need to get involved and help our children succeed in school.
Click on link below for the 2016-2017 Absenteeism and Suspension Stats: