Motivate Students To Boost Attendance

Every year, teachers, counselors, administrators, and others in the school work to improve attendance, but getting students to join in on the campaign can be challenging.

We all know that attendance is one of the strongest predictors of a student’s success. Research backs this up - Robert Balfanz, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, has shown that missing just 10 days of school in one year of middle school can drop a student’s likelihood of graduating to 76%. Every year, teachers, counselors, administrators, and others in the school work to improve attendance, but getting students to join in on the campaign can be challenging. Get Schooled has spent the past five years working with schools and students to improve attendance, and our work in engaging the entire school around attendance has taught us a few things:


Unite the whole school. Every student needs to feel like when he shows up on time, it matters - not just for his future/success but for the school as a whole. Involve every grade, all staff, and every type of student (perfect attenders and truants alike). Everyone should feel ownership in your school’s attendance campaign and know that their contribution (showing up, getting a friend to school on time, talking to a tardy student) matters. Create this sense of team and belonging and wins will follow.

Recognize small wins and reward big achievements. Student research conducted by Get Schooled found that students like the idea of incremental rewards throughout the school year. Shorter-term goals (improved weekly or monthly attendance) feel more do-able than longer-term ones (improved semester or yearly attendance).

And recognition does not need to be costly. These incremental progress indicators can be recognized with certificates, shout-outs, photos, etc. In one school, an assistant principal even promised to put on roller skates and skate down the hallways if the school sustained a 98% attendance rate for a whole week. The school made the goal and all the students gathered for the skate to be rememberer!

When a homeroom, grade, or even the entire school realizes sustained gains over time, it’s time for bigger celebration – a pizza party, recognition at an assembly or even a DJ dance party. Acknowledging everyone with a reward that students and staff can both appreciate contributes to a school-wide culture focused on everyone’s success, and it’s fun.

Give students creative ways to ‘show up’ and be counted. Fun is really important. You can bring more fun to your effort by asking student leaders to come up with ways to engage the entire school in the attendance campaign. We’ve seen Get Schooled student leaders host pep rallies, do lunch room attendance blitz efforts, and even go classroom to classroom to get students excited and engaged about an attendance campaign.

Get Schooled is here to help. Get Schooled’s check-in tool is always an easy way to boost engagement – students check in, and earn points they can use in our reward store. The Get Schooled Breakfast Club is coming this fall – students can sign up for inspirational text messages that will encourage them to get up and get going in the morning. And all year long, we will reinforce the importance of attendance and seek out opportunities to engage your school in attendance campaigns – big and small. Have ideas or want more information – contact us at info@getschooled.com

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