Incentive programs to boost attendance produce promising results

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Pittsburgh Public Schools have teamed with several organizations to boost attendance rates by providing both a better environment for kids and incentivizing them to go to school.

The Be There campaign, along with the United Way of Allegheny County and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, are initiatives Pittsburgh schools have implemented to “inspire families to become more involved in their children’s education.” According to the Be There campaign website, the program functions as “a valuable and easy-to-use tool for educators who want to increase family involvement in their schools.”

While schools have seen substantial decreases in absentee rates among students on the elementary level — namely through the creation of incentives such as free pizza, monthly rewards and the like — creating a similar system for middle school and high schools students will be more challenging. The incentives offered will have to be greater and more enticing for students to attend school because at that age, school might not be a priority for the chronically absent. While improvements to curricula might appeal to more students, students must attend first.

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