Top 10 High School Attendance Incentives Ideas

School attendance is a helpful tool for measuring student performance. The most significant advantage of school attendance is that it is simple and easy to understand. It is important to motivate the students to come to school so that their attendance can be measured. At the same time, higher attendance would ensure students’ better academic performance. There can be various ways to establish attendance incentives. Here is a list of incentives to apply to high school and ensure higher student attendance.

Why is attendance important?

Prominent researchers have concluded that high school attendance and student achievement are integrally associated. Research results suggest that students missing school may struggle academically and professionally. A few of the reasons why students should be encouraged to attend school regularly are:

  • Regular attendance in high school classes ensures students have no lessons pending and are aligned with the course syllabus.
  • Getting up, having breakfast, reaching school, learning lessons, going back home, finishing homework- a student has to do everything on time and in a structured way. Such timed management of everyday work while attending school and spending hours there enables students to acquire management skills, especially time management.
  • Regular school students develop academic skills like reading, writing, and numerical skills more efficiently.
  • Attending school helps students develop social skills like making new friends, learning social etiquette, etc.

What are some high school attendance incentive ideas?

Applying attendance incentive ideas motivate students to come to school and participate actively in the learning process. A comprehensive approach includes sanctions and incentives and, thus, improves attendance. In turn, students acquire high self-esteem besides academic excellence. It is often seen that students consider rewards and peer pressure to be more important than the instruction or advice their parents and teachers give. The incentive concept emphasizes this psychology by rewarding the students one way or another, increasing attendance. Here are a few attendance incentive ideas.

1. Offering positive comments

It is natural for humans they feel motivated when their work or act is acknowledged, and they receive positive comments. So, when a student comes to school for a week or two without absenting, words of appreciation from the teacher will encourage them.

Comments like “That’s impressive David, you have not been absent even a day!” or, “Amy has done a great job everybody! She has been with us throughout the month. Let’s give her a big hand!” are effective.

2. Poster Activity

Like the children from middle or elementary school, high-school students will also find it more interesting and engaging if they are part of some activities. It is wisest if the activity highlights the issue at hand- attendance.

The school can arrange for a poster competition or exhibition on the topic “Importance of attendance at school.” While preparing the poster, the students feel how important attendance at school is as they collect resources.

3. Recognition of the highest present student

The school can arrange recognition sessions for the students with the highest attendance. When students find that the school administration recognizes them by name and makes it known to everyone, they feel motivated. The recognition announcement can take place during the morning assembly. Or, there can be a ten-minute session on the last Friday of the month where the students’ names are announced.

4. Reward for high attendance

When students receive rewards for their high attendance, it will motivate them to maintain attendance in the future. These rewards can be a certificate of appreciation presented to the student in the class or at the student assembly.

5. Special privilege

To attract the students and make them attend school, they can be offered some perks and privileges. For example, the students with the highest attendance can get an extra mashed potato or chicken fry in the cafeteria. Or, they can have a ‘no homework’ privilege for a day. They can also be offered first-in-line privileges during lunch. Such an incentive will make the other students strive for the same, increasing the overall attendance.

6. Pizza treat from the class teacher

This incentive idea is for classes instead of single students. The class teacher can announce that whichever class comes with the highest number of students present in classes throughout the month will win an in-class pizza party.

Students are likely to strive to avail this and come to school to ensure their class wins the party. As a result, the overall attendance will increase. The class teacher can offer other treats instead of pizza, such as brownies, smoothies, or anything that high school students commonly prefer.

7. Inter-school competition of attendance

Schools within a locality can come together to implement this incentive idea. There will be an inter-school attendance competition. Whichever school records the highest attendance in a month will be the winner. The reward can vary from being as simple as free movie tickets to as big as a visit from a favorite YouTube influencer.

8. Special school stationeries

The class teacher of each class can offer the student with the highest attendance special school stationeries. The stationeries might include pencils with the school’s logo, a badge with the inscription ‘I am cool because I come to school.’ They can also be offered t-shirts with funny and attractive slogans such as ‘Stay Cool and Be At School,’ ‘Attendance Hero,’ etc.

9. Extra recess time

During school hours, students enjoy recess the most. A few minutes extra in recess would mean a lot to them. The class with the highest attendance can get an extra 10-15 minute recess on Friday. However, this extra session must be under the Principal’s or the class teacher’s supervision. This incentive idea enables the teachers to get a longer lunch break too.

10. Bring your pet to school

Students with pets are generally found to be eager to show them to the rest of the class. In this idea for incentive, the class teachers of each class can offer the students a ‘bring your pet to school day’ if they achieve regular attendance for a month or a semester.

Those who do not have a pet can use this opportunity and bring someone from a local shelter. This way, the students can be motivated to maintain a record of regular attendance.

Other ideas

In addition to the ideas mentioned above, schools can implement more creative incentive ideas such as:

  • Lunch with the Principal
  • Putting up the name of the student on the Attendance Wall
  • Redeemable food coupons to be used in the cafeteria
  • Privilege to park nearest to the school building
  • Raffle tickets for a prize such as a new bike, free popcorn at a movie, etc.
  • Other rewards in accordance with the age and class of the students as a token of acknowledgment for improved attendance

A few points to remember

  • It is best to rope in guardians in the incentive process to ensure the highest efficiency.
  • Incentives do not always need to be costly. The main focus is on the student’s engagement, not how pricey the reward is.
  • The aim of the incentives should not only be perfect attendance. A student might be in school every day but not participate in activities, show poor grades on the exam, etc. In such cases, the rewards will not be meaningful. 


The recognition and rewards students receive from the school due to their regular attendance are actually a message to the students and their families that attending school is a priority. It also aims at improving the students who are struggling. If these students come to school regularly, they will better grasp the lessons being taught, or the teachers can recognize if they are falling back due to any specific reason (for example, learning disability). If implemented properly, these incentives can effectively reduce chronic absence.

The incentive ideas above can help schools attract students to regularly come to class and achieve perfection in academic, personal, and professional skill development.

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