Recognize Good and Improved Attendance

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.

  • Sponsor a poster contest:  Let students of all ages convey the importance of attendance.  View sample Posters from Baltimore
  • Sponsor a video contest: Let your middle and high school students create PSAs that the community can use during attendance month and beyond.  Read Tips for Video Contests
  • Create an attendance month competition between classes, grades or local schools to see who can best improve attendance. The rewards can be as simple as an extra recess or as fancy as a raffle ticket for a new car. Businesses can donate gift certificates or movie tickets. Local celebrities and sports stars can visit the winning schools.

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.