The recent shifts prompted by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has helped raise the stakes for schools around student absences.
What, then, are schools to do in order to move the needle on student attendance? One popular approach in schools is using a wide range of incentives to improve attendance. Yet some of these programs have had varied levels of success.
A recent article by senior researchers Rekha Balu at MDRC and Stacy Ehrlich at NORC at the University of Chicago provides a framework to help school staff think about how—and when—to use incentives to improve student attendance. Their article recommends that educators step back and consider if incentives are an appropriate intervention, and then think about how to design incentives in ways that address the specific attendance barriers.
Their article includes four sets of questions to help educators develop incentives programs designed to reduce chronic absence.
Find a summary of Balu's and Ehrlich's article on the Attendance Works website.
You can find the full study, Making Sense out of Incentives: A Framework for Considering the Design, Use, and Implementation of Incentives to Improve Attendance, published in JESPAR (the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk).