Written by Alyssa Walker

Don't like showing up in class every day? You're not alone. 

In an attempt to boost attendance, some schools offer rewards and commendations to those who have perfect or near-perfect records. 

A new study suggests that these rewards may not be all that effective. 

Researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School recently published a study on the effectiveness of attendance reward programs on over 15,000 students in 14 California school districts.

The BBC reported that Carly Robinson, one of the study's authors, found that there was no difference in student attendance, even when prizes were announced in advance.

If the rewards were retrospective and students didn't know about their possibility, then they made negative impacts on future attendance.

Teachers and education officials did not expect these results. The study found that only two percent of staff expected these schemes not to work.

The study said, "The award may have resulted in recipients feeling allowed to miss a future day of school."

The study also noted the cultural pressure among teenagers to conform. These prizes single out students with high attendance levels -- and their peers may see that as outside the norm and ostracize them.

The study found that students who receive the attendance awards may change their behavior to fit in. 

The study concludes, "These findings have implications for when and how awards should be used to motivate desirable behaviors - and when they may backfire."

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Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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