Recognize Good and Improved Attendance
Important Note: In alignment with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Attendance Works advises against perfect attendance awards or other approaches to incentives that might encourage students to attend class even when they are ill, especially while the United States is grappling with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
CDC has developed interim guidance and resources for K-12 schools and childcare programs to help plan, prepare and respond to coronavirus disease 2019. Learn more from the CDC here.
School communities can send a clear message that going to school every day is a priority by providing regular recognition and rewards to students and families who have good and improved attendance. Keep in mind that the goal is not to focus on perfect attendance since the children who struggle the most will soon be left out of such awards. This strategy can also help improve the accuracy of attendance data since the students, themselves, are likely to help ensure teachers are aware of who is and isn’t in class.
Incentives and contests take advantage of the fact that students often respond better to concrete rewards and peer pressure than they do to lectures from parents and teachers.
Incentives are often used by schools as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce chronic absence, yet not all incentive programs are created equal. Researchers Rekha Balu at MDRC and Stacy Ehrlich at NORC at the University of Chicago have developed a framework, with questions educators can consider, to help design incentive programs that work.
Find the study by Rekha Balue and Stacy Ehrlich, Making Sense out of Incentives: A Framework for Considering the Design, Use, and Implementation of Incentives to Improve Attendance, JESPAR, Feb. 2018.