Attendance Incentives and Contests

Incentives and contests take advantage of the fact that students often respond better to concrete rewards, positive peer pressure and friendly competition than they do to punishment.

Contests encourage competition among students to see who can best increase attendance and student engagement for students at all grade levels who may not see the benefits of coming to school every day.

In some cases the effectiveness of incentive programs can be mixed. Two researchers suggest schools step back and consider if incentives are an appropriate intervention. A new framework can help educators think this through and provides guidance on how to design incentives in ways that address the specific attendance barriers.

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Get involved with Get Schooled, a nonprofit that directly engages and motivates students to graduate from high school and succeed in college. Get Schooled has developed a track record of success because it engages with young Americans using the media, technology and popular culture that is an integral part of their lives. It offers and twice-yearly Attendance Challenges for secondary schools. The 10-week Fall challenge starts in October, so use September to prepare students for the contest. The higher the attendance increase during the Challenge, the greater the chance schools have for winning a celebrity principal for the day.  In the Challenge, students will also play educational games, develop their academic skills, and learn more about the college and financial aid application process to earn points and prizes.

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.

Successstories-01In Miami Gardens, Florida students at Carol City Middle School increased attendance by 7.8 percent and came out on top of the National Attendance Challenge sponsored by Get Schooled. Their reward: a visit from DJ Khaled, who served as principal for the day and surprised the students by reading the day’s announcements on the loudspeaker. The students earned a celebration with the successful music producer and the school $2,500.