A ‘Level Up’ to School Attendance

A ‘Level Up’ to School Attendance

A ‘Level Up’ to School Attendance

Research shows that before an elementary school and high school child enters fifth grade, there is a dramatic drop-off in attendance. In the ‘average’ school, 3.5% of students won’t go to school; but in some schools, 6% won’t go to school. Too many children are disengaged from school.

Scattered across the states, there are plenty of schools that are giving away prizes for showing up to school, keeping quiet, taking standardized tests, and being in class. Although the concepts and benefits of giving away prizes are well established in scientific research, research has been few and far between on classroom incentives. It seems many schools are popping the question, wondering if these kinds of incentives can encourage kids to get to school.

Until now.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, MindShift and GR-KIDS launched a classroom incentive program called Level Up that harnesses the power of prizes to encourage kids to show up for school. It’s currently implemented in the grade levels 8-12 on a selective basis. To kick off the program, the first 30 children were invited to a free ‘ice cream and pocket change’ ice cream sundae reception. As we’ve seen in other cities, these ‘in-school programs’ generally attract attendance at schools that have a poor reputation. After the reception, research showed that attendance went up across the board!

Research has long shown that rewards can motivate kids to do whatever the reward may be. It’s no secret that incentives can influence the answer to a homework question, so why not get kids excited about their education? That’s why we designed Level Up with the objective of rewarding hard work. In some elementary schools in Grand Rapids, kids can win ice cream sundaes, popsicles, coffee filters, pencils, glue sticks, batteries, and money. GR-KIDS comes up with a list of items to present the kids. In one element of the program, students can answer quizzes to win additional prizes.

Students have been open about what motivates them to do their best. Kids have told me they love the candy and pizza, but also like the fact that they get rewarded just for showing up to school. Other students liked the way they felt that they were contributing something positive to the classroom. They felt they were showing leadership qualities by giving to the classroom. Many added that they appreciated the teachers. Each school has a unique structure of events, however, some school newsletters have been created, and some of the elementary school programs are available for the parents.

Have you noticed a huge difference in what kids are doing in the classroom as a result of receiving rewards? What are the success stories? At the end of Level Up’s first year, Key Michigan Board members will meet with representatives from GR-KIDS and parents to see how the program is doing. Keep an eye out for the results!

Since its launch, Level Up has been expanded to cover grades 5 and 6. Additionally, this past spring, the Level Up positive incentive committee selected a middle school that is piloting this program. The program will be rolled out there this coming school year. Next year, GR-KIDS is looking forward to increasing the program to grades 1, 2, and 3.

For more information about the Gretsky Associates and Level Up elementary incentive program, or for any education organization to enter the Level Up program, visit LevelUpForStudents.com or call (224) 238-4050.




GR-KIDS is Grand Rapids public school’s elementary program. The GR-KIDS program is a cooperative partnership with Grand Rapids Public Schools and Grand Rapids Public Library which offers a rigorous and relevant elementary curriculum to children in kindergarten through sixth grade. To learn more about GR-KIDS and the academic, social, cultural, and arts curriculum to prepare them for academic, social, and cultural success when they enter high school, check out the GR-KIDS catalog at the library, or sign up for an online school page at http://www.gridskipperstk12….

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