Finding effective incentives to increase student attendance

A close-up of the dogtags Principal Diana Gibson-Johnson uses to reward good attendance

Sometimes the art of motivating people all boils down to finding the right incentives.

That’s what Principal Diana Gibson-Johnson discovered last year, when she used a variety of prizes to boost student attendance at Windsor Village Elementary School.

Children who came to class for an entire week had their names entered into a drawing for small prizes, while those who were present for an entire nine weeks were treated to an ice cream party in the cafeteria. Students who maintained perfect attendance for the entire year had their names entered into a drawing for a laptop, and last year, first-grader Adrian Escalante took home the inaugural prize.

“We had a chicken pox epidemic that really hit us hard last December,” said Gibson-Johnson, “but overall, we saw monthly increases in attendance figures from the previous years. Students get really excited about such small things, like hearing their name called out over the intercom, getting to wear jeans or jerseys on certain days, or getting to play games for 15 minutes. We also gave out dog tags for attendance and honor roll students. It works.”

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