About 10 percent of New Jersey schoolchildren are “chronically absent,” which is defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year, according to a recent report by Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ). This works out to 136,000 children during the 2014-2015 school year, which is when the survey was conducted. The bulk of the problem seems to occur in the very early grades and in high school.
Most of the chronic absenteeism occurs in 216 districts. According to Cecilia Zalkind, ACNJ president and CEO, some of these districts — such as Trenton — have taken a proactive stance toward the problem, and have seen the rates of absenteeism drop from some months of 25 percent to others now at only 6 percent.