Recognize Good and Improved Attendance

Schools and communities can send a clear message that going to school every day is a priority by providing regular recognition to students and families with good and improved attendance. Keep in mind, the goal is not to just award perfect attendance for a semester or the school year, since the children who struggle the most will soon be left out. Rather, consider awards for shorter periods of time so that children and families can feel successful. A school-wide approach 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!

Strategies for recognizing attendance include:

Create a Welcoming Culture: One of the easiest ways to recognize attendance is greeting students and families when they arrive every morning. Teachers can make a point of welcoming back a student who was absent the day before and ask the class to join in the welcome. Parents and other community partners can also serve as greeters helping to create a warm, friendly and caring atmosphere to start the day.

Encourage Students to Track Attendance: As early as preschool, students can keep track of their own absences using stickers and gold stars. Some teachers find attendance tracking has the added advantage of teaching math skills.

Use These Tools:

Create attendance displays: Schools can use bulletin boards to list names or show pictures of students with good and improved attendance.

Host school-wide assemblies: Provide attendance awards and certificates to students, as well as to teachers and parents for efforts to get students to school daily.

Launch contests among classes: Create friendly competition among classrooms or grades. Classes can compete for most improved attendance or highest attendance in a certain timeframe (such as a month or a quarter). Or, challenge classes to take a “classroom selfie,” and reward the classroom that has the most students present for its selfie.

Offer incentives for attendance: Come up with small rewards that will be handed out to students with good and improved attendance. Or, plan a special meal or attendance as a reward.

How Community Partners and Parent Leaders Can Help
  • Speak at assemblies recognizing good and improved attendance

  • Support a breakfast-in-the-classroom program to encourage on-time attendance

  • List names of students with good attendance in newsletters or bulletin boards

  • Assist the school in coming up with creative low-cost ways to recognize students and finding local businesses that will offer low-cost prizes or healthy snacks for classrooms with good attendance or at monthly assemblies

  • Talk to students in early childhood and afterschool programs

  • Build your own incentive programs using your program’s attendance data