Student Support Services

Attendance Incentives

Attendance policy and programming, coupled with school climate and increased academic performance, offers a unique opportunity to engage the entire school community – parents, staff, students, and community members – in a process that will build upon the strengths of all concerned.  Maintenance of high attendance rates depends upon incentives and sanctions. Although districts will differ in the incentives employed depending upon the philosophies and needs of family and community, programs are quite likely to reflect the diversity and creativity that exists within schools and their communities.

Some General Ideas:


  1. Positive comment to child from teacher about their good attendance
  2. A note home to parents in Student Agenda Book
  3. Extra time at the computer or PE
  4. "Free" homework pass
  5. Lines up first for lunch or at class dismissal
  6. Submit student's name to school morning show for special recognition throughout school
  7. Cookie coupon
  8. Pencils, pens, stickers, posters, book covers, book marks, etc.
  9. Team certificate for the best record or most improved record within a time period
  10. Name on the "Attendance Wall" in the classroom


  1. Special school recognition during morning announcements
  2. Certificate/award at student assembly
  3. Breakfast/lunch with the principal, superintendent, the school board president, the mayor etc.
  4. School supplies (i.e. pencil with school logo on it)
  5. Food coupons redeemable in school cafeteria
  6. Food gift certificate (McDonald's, Wendy's, etc.)
  7. Ice cream/pizza party for class with highest attendance average
  8. Earn "school money" to buy from the school store
  9. Student's name on school-wide attendance wall
  10. Larger incentives for most improved attendance for entire year (bicycle, I-Pod, DVD player)
  11. Traveling trophy for each grade level homeroom with highest attendance each month
  12. Attendance dance
  13. Attendance t-shirts/hats/buttons
  14. Age-appropriate rewards, developed with family/community assistance, for most improved
  15. Choice of community-donated product (tickets to event, movies, etc., meeting/photo op with some local, dignitary, gift certificate
  16. Monetary award at the end of the year as part of closing ceremonies
  17. Student with improved attendance gets to act as teacher's assistant
  18. Student with the best attendance gets to take attendance with the substitute teacher when teacher is absent.
  19. Mentoring of younger student with attendance issues by an older student who has high attendance
  20. Student gets to shadow the principal for a morning or afternoon
  21. Parking space near building for the student with the most improved attendance
  22. Conduct a poster contest, display them and vote for one to be reproduced for distribution

Possible Sources for Incentives

  1. Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA)
  2. Fundraisers
  3. Donations
  4. Partnerships with Private Sector, Businesses, Churches, Community Based Organizations (CBO) and Governmental Agency
  5. Grants
  6. Profits from Concessions (school events)
  7. Websites that offer free items, such as donations
  8. Internal Sources
    • Art class (poster contest)
    • Culinary class - sales to benefit a grant
    • Cafeteria - certificates for a second helping
    • Media - movie(s) for the most improved homeroom attendance
    • Technology - projects to promote attendance
    • Computer class - projects to promote attendance
    • Home and Careers - projects to promote attendance

Individual "Disincentives", Sanctions are a bad idea when not accompanied by incentives

  1. For some students – likelihood of bad grades, lost course credit, loss of respect of teachers and staff, limitation of future options, etc. may provide intrinsic disincentive
  2. Detention
  3. Grade/course credit penalties
  4. Writing activities – why I skip school; what I need to want to come to school; etc
  5. Withdraw or deny work permission
  6. Intervention with social work
  7. Deny school-based extra-curricular activities

Note: Students with attendance issues are likely to provide a rich source of both incentives and sanctions, if asked. Consequences of decisions to attend or not attend school should be intrinsic to all sanctions.

A healthy school climate or environment encourages the optimum performance of all.  It promotes self-esteem for everyone; and relationships that are favorable to social/emotional health.The following sites often provide insight into the inter-related issues of school climate, attendance and student academic performance.

Last Updated: June 3, 2014