The Negative Side Affects of Attendance Incentives

How free bowling and pizza parties can lead to negative affect on students.


Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

The average high school student will spend 720 days in school throughout high school

When students have to stress about exams unnecessarily it negatively impacts their mental health

Attendance incentives and rewards are nothing new in the public education system. From the certificate given out in elementary school at assemblies for perfect attendance to the pizza parties and free bowling nights in high school, this strategy to try and get students to attend school is nothing new. While most attendance rewards are usually nothing of serious consequence that is not the case for exam exemption for Seniors here at Lafayette High School.

The exam exemption for Seniors is something students look forward to as soon as they learn what it is as Freshman. The ability to get out of school a week early and not have to stress out about big review packetsĀ  or review notes taken months earlier. While many students had the opportunity to not take their exams last year the thought of going back to that stress is by no means enticing for any student especially Seniors who are ready to graduate. The rule for exam exemption is that Seniors can have no unexcused absences and only five excused absences for the entire school year. This is not counting the rules for being tardy that eventually end up counting as absences. While five days of unexcused absences may seem like a lot at the beginning of the year once doctors appointments and other things start to add up it really is not a lot at all. I myself am going to be missing two days this month alone because my dad is taking me to look at colleges since it is my senior year. I understand that the school wants to try and limit the amount of Senioritis getting spread around but this policy is not the most effective way to do that.

Attendance incentives negatively impact people that are chronically ill

By having an attendance policy like this schools are incentivizing kids to go to school no matter what. This works against kids who could get sick and instead of saying they should rest at home and help themselves and other this forces kids with a tough choice to tough it out or give up getting out of school a week early. This is completely counter intuitive to all that we as a society had supposedly learned after covid. It is not weak to recognize that you should stay home and rest for the safety of others and the health of yourself. By holding exam exemption over students heads it is reinforcing outdated ideology to tough it out and to just push through.

The average school year is 180 days long

“It’s frustrating having to think about the attendance policy because I have college tours coming up and regattas that are scheduled and stuff that is a part of Senior Year but could cost me my exam exemption” says Kirsten Smith, a Senior at Lafayette High School.

After lock down people have been going out and enjoying life to the fullest and Seniors are no exception to that. We have been going to Busch Gardens and going on vacation and hanging out with our friends. Covid taught us to prioritize living life and not always putting work first. I myself am planning to go on a long awaited trip in January and hopefully go to a concert next year. I am not going to continue to walk on eggshells when I have already sacrificed so much because of covid. I might not get to ever go to a prom, which I’ve been dreaming about for years, or homecoming, or even to have one last real pep rally. After all we’ve had to give up I’m not giving up more of my life to school when I’ve worked hard for 4 years to have some sense of normalcy and freedom.

“I think that it is good that they incentivize attendance and get people to come to school but it works too well since kids that are sick still feel the need to force themselves to go to school.” commented Will Outten

If a student has one unexcused absences they are not eligible for exam exemption

I personally don’t want to just coast this year, I know that isn’t sentiment all students share which is why I understand the purpose of the exam incentive. I propose the solution that students are exam exempt if they have an 80% or higher in a class. You can’t do well in a class if you aren’t showing up and doing the work. By basing it off grade and not attendance, the policy is more flexible to meet the needs for students. It allows students to use their judgement and it gives them the responsibility to make up their work ad keep their grades up. No one is going to be babysitting how often we go to class in college so why are our school officials not setting us up for success and independence now.