Area school districts use incentives to improve school attendance

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Area districts are using incentives to up the attendance rates in schools, but the big question is; does it work?

Students at Center High School say the school makes it very clear that attendance is important.  But they choose to come to school regardless because it's a bigger headache to make up what they miss.

Christian Williams, 18, says he missed two weeks of school last year when he broke his leg.

“It's almost impossible, I actually have to drop a class and take a study hall class,” said Williams.

Cydney Slade, 15, says even missing one day is tough.

“I have to go to all my teachers on top of that, go to my classes, and if I miss practice I have to make up the practices,” said Slade.

So the question is, why then, are incentives necessary?

David Leone, the Superintendent of the Center School District, says the attendance requirement was changed in their annual performance review. He says now they look at the total number of kids who have 90 percent attendance or better. Leone says while their attendance percentage rate is high, he decided to put more emphasis on the district level to achieve that 90 percent, which he says is more difficult for districts, especially urban school districts.

“In order for our kids to get college, career, and life ready, they need to be in school to learn and to get ready for the world ahead of them,” said Leone.

Some students feel the incentives are nice but not necessary.  Others say it is positive re-enforcement to be recognized for it.

Leone says he wants to show students how important it is to come to school and he gives money out of his own pocket. He says even adults in the work place get incentives and this is no different. Some other school districts across the metro use this method as well.