Who would have thought that going to school could earn you an iPad?
New Jersey apparently “cut $1.3 million in aid because of the school district’s high absenteeism rates,” says the Middle Township Gazette. School districts in the state are required “to reach at least a 96 percent attendance each day,” so, on April 15, Middle Township began their little experiment of incentivizing attendance.
“A handful of students are chronically absent,” says Principal Toni Johnson, but the “numbers have significantly decreased.” The goal, says Johnson, is to have 98 percent attendance. Researching methods that other schools were using, “Johnson picked up the phone and had some prizes donated,” writes New Jersey 101.5. Students, they say, can win prizes “individually, as a homeroom, by grade or as a school.”
The school reportedly had more than 97 percent attendance rate within the first week of its incentive program, and kids get excited when, say, everyone arrives at their homeroom class. For perfect homeroom attendance, they could see rewards like “being able to wear casual clothes, have cookies or popcorn and go on outdoor field trip,” writes the Middle Township Gazette. Weekly prizes, New Jersey 101.5 notes, include “bracelets for Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, gift cards to stores on the boardwalk and cookie trays from local businesses,” while year-end prizes are even higher-end, offering gifts like bicycles and iPads.
The school sent home a letter to parents explaining the new prize policy:
“Each of us can help improve student attendance at school. The more we are involved in each student’s education, the more likely he or she is to succeed academically, socially, and in their future life pursuits. The solutions are easy. Make sure your child wakes up on time for school every single day. Recognize effort and achievement. Show interest in your child’s school activities. No matter what you do, the most important thing is for a parent to show their child that they care about and are invested in their education.”
Motivation, apparently, is everything.