The Atlantic City, New Jersey Public Schools system has a serious problem with student absenteeism.

In response, Atlantic City has turned to a California-based model to encourage children to come to school by giving them prizes … Air Jordan sneakers, gift cards, video game systems and more as an incentive to improve attendance.

The incentive program is called “Knowlej.” It was founded in August, 2023 by Amen Rahh, Chief Executive Officer Principal.

He said that, “the goal is to help local districts encourage students to come to school every day, and make it into the building on time. I wanted to combat chronic absenteeism, increase student engagement and prepare students for the future of work in our country.  We work with schools around the country,” said Rahh.

Laurie Egrie, Atlantic City New York Avenue School Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Coach was instrumental in adopting this program in Atlantic City.

Egrie said that the New York Avenue School attendance challenge, called  "I's for Days" was a success, said Egrie.

The initial attendance challenge took place from May 15, to May 29, 2024.

“Students had to be respectful and do all their school work. Even in this two-week challenge, we saw an uptick in our attendance," Egrie said.

The prizes were brought to the New York Avenue School on June 3, 2024 and were awarded to students who achieved the 95 percent attendance rate and other required parameters.

Two pep rally-style assemblies were held to introduce the pilot program. The first assembly was held for kindergarten through fourth grade students. The second assembly was for fifth through eighth grades.

No doubt, some will criticize Atlantic City for “paying” children to come to school.

The Atlantic City Public Schools has serious problems … declining enrollment and a significant overall morale problem.

New York Avenue School Principal Kendall Williams said “the program was important because students must be in school and be on time to get the most out of the education system,” said Williams.

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