Is Perfect Attendance Helpful or Harmful?


Kennedy Kern, Content Creator

Perfect attendance is pushed on kids in school more than any other time in life. Starting in elementary school, kids learn that coming to school, even if you are sick, will get you cool prizes and a perfect attendance certificate. But why are we encouraging children to prioritize attendance over their own physical and mental wellbeing?

“I received almost perfect attendance. Sometimes I went to school not feeling the best. I feel like the standards to be at school every day to receive an award is useless. It’s telling the kids no matter what they need to be at school,” said Anna Bitter.

There are so many problems with the idea of “perfect attendance”, the main one being that it is almost impossible for most. Whether it be a family emergency, a doctor’s visit, a mental health day or purely just a sick day; it is hard for a child to be at every single day of school.

Also, perfect attendance is extremely ableist. “Perfect attendance policies favor children without disabilities or chronic health conditions. While “just showing up” to school can sound like a simple task for an able-bodied child without any long-term health conditions, it’s not a feasible goal for a child with chronic illness. It forces students who are sick or injured (or the parents of a sick or injured child) to choose between the external pressure to be at school every single day and their own physical and mental wellbeing. It also sends the message to any disabled or chronically ill students that it doesn’t matter how much effort they put into their school work at home or school, they’ve already fallen short of expectations by not being able to physically show up every day” (Sanner, 2021).

For me as a child, it was always devastating to not get the cool perfect attendance awards simply because I had gotten sick or had an appointment, etc.. I felt like, even though I had good grades, because I could not be there every day, I was slacking.

Daltrey Kurth said, “in elementary school, I never was awarded for perfect attendance, because very often, I would get a small cold or fever and have to stay home for a day. At school assemblies, when my friends were given perfect attendance awards, I would always feel bad that wasn’t getting one.”

Overall, perfect attendance is teaching children that their health is less important than their attendance, when in reality, missing a day or two is normal. As Ian Jennings said, “it’s okay to take breaks for yourself. We’re all human, we’re not automated robots.”


Sanner, L. (2021, June 28). The Problem with Perfect Attendance Awards. Andover Family Counseling. Retrieved November 19, 2021, from