The Problem with ‘Perfect Attendance’
When I was a kid, I never received any perfect attendance awards. Zero. Zilch. No special pizza days, no trophies, no chance to win a bike. Because I was chronically ill, I was hospitalized in Intensive Care for weeks out of every year. In spite of making all A's, there were years I almost didn't pass on to the next grade because of my bad attendance record. It was hard to care too much, I was busy being woken every hour to be administered a shot. A shot that bruised my inner arm so badly I couldn't bend it. But healthy kid, enjoy your bike. I have my collapsed lung to keep me busy.
Am I bitter? Not really. My daughter won the bike one year. I'm grateful that she is so healthy. But for every parent of a sick kid, or a special needs kid, or for every parent that needs to call their kid in for a "mental health day"- I'm not afraid to say it- Perfect Attendance Awards are utterly ableist crapola.
"Ist" words get thrown around a lot, but Perfect Attendance is textbook ableist policy in schools. Trust me, those kids feel excluded enough before you disinvited them to your pizza party.
Do perfect attendance awards even accomplish what they are intended to do? Not in higher grades, for sure. Is chronic absenteeism bad for academic performance? Sure, but most students who are chronically absent are impoverished or disabled. Further punishing these children through exclusion seems hardly effective, kind, or just.
Most parents can tell you the solution immediately: make school interesting, fun and less test-oriented and you'll have more engaged students. It's simple, obvious, and every parent wants that. So why hasn't it happened yet? Legislative nonsense is my guess. Whoever figures it out is the one who deserves a pizza party and a new bike.