Dad Calls Out School's Perfect Attendance Awards For Contributing To 'Burnout' — 'What's The Lesson?'

He thinks it's biased.

dad calls out perfect attendance awards at school contributing burnout Pixabay on Pexels

It’s hard to forget the kids who’d show up to school runny-nosed, homework in hand, ready to work themselves exhausted for the ‘Best Attendance’ award. 

Some felt envious of them, the rest were utterly shocked at their inability to never miss a day. 

Exhaustion and a vague ‘Bootstrap Mentality’ — these kids are the beginning of an endless cycle that continues well into their adult employment. 


This TikTok dad has similar criticisms to make about attendance awards — ones that clearly prioritize funding over children’s health.

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This TikTok dad is in shock over his child’s school attendance awards. 

In a video, this concerned dad stitched a video about ‘perfect attendance.’ Jay, the original creator, captioned his video with, “Perfect Attendance awards in elementary school were an early deposit of the idea that taking time off is ‘bad.’” 



Comments underneath the video show users flashing back to their younger years, some even in high school, remembering kids who won awards for never missing a day for all four years. 


“My son won an award for being a good reader,” the dad says in his video, “At that ceremony, they also gave out awards for perfect attendance.” 

As something ‘out of their control,’ this dad criticizes the absurdity of attendance awards. 

“After what we just went through and are still going through, how are we rewarding students for something beyond their control?” he questions. “I realize it comes down to funding,” he says plainly, although he continues on with his critiques. 

In a Washington Post article from March 2021, attendance is simplified to just that — funding. In order to receive higher ratings and secure enrollment and funding, school districts must incentivize attendance. 

Not only does that mean encouraging sick students to come to school, but it also relieves the burden of incredibly high at-home childcare rates for parents. 


Some would say ‘win-win,’ even at the students’ expense — but, they get an award, right?  “Should we really be encouraging parents to send their sick kids to school? Is that really the message we should be sending?” 

It’s this message of an unhealthy, unsustainable lifestyle that is relayed through awards like these — incentivizing parents to enforce and children to seek.  

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He emphasizes the danger of sending sick children to school ‘in this state of the world.’ 

This dad proposes a different avenue to praise students for their hard work — instead of their immune systems. And if their hard work doesn’t get an award, surely attendance will still be around — but, in a much different way. 


“Reward the students who are responsible students and staying home when they’re ill,” the dad says, “instead of coming to school and getting their classmates sick.” 

It’s awards like these that need repurposing in order to send more useful messages to students — especially young ones like this dad's child. “What’s the lesson that we’re teaching children? That they should feel guilty for getting sick. That they’re somehow less, not worth of an award, simply because they caught a cold.” 

Rewarding attendance reinforces a mentality in children to prioritize work over their well-being. 

Not only are these attendance awards demotivating for students who already have to miss school — they give every other student praise for simply not being sick. 

Something completely out of their control, students will inherently fall behind just for being sick simply because of the school district’s prioritization of attendance


A Harvard Ph.D. candidate’s 2019 study reinforces this idea of chronic absenteeism putting students at an intense disadvantage — but, it questions whether or not commonplace attendance awards are truly helping this phenomenon. 

Not only did they find the awards to be incredibly demotivating for students, but they also proved to be unhealthy for the high-achieving attendance students, as well. 

“Students who received the award thought that they were attending more school than their classmates,” the study finds, “So, receiving the award seems to have left them feeling licensed to miss more school going forward.” 

Burnout, chronic to students, will continue to follow these generations into their future — affecting their mental health and well-being as they grow into their occupations. 


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Outside of mentality, attendance awards are inherently biased toward privileged students. 

“Perfect attendance awards should no longer have a place in U.S. schools,” The Washington Post article states. 

Not only are these praises inequitable to students with chronic health struggles, developmental disabilities, and students facing difficult life events — they also target low-income students and families. 


“Of course, attendance is crucial to academic performance,” the article writes, “But rewarding students for a good immune system or for pushing through illness to be present can be dangerous to individual students and to vulnerable classmates.” 

They propose an innovative educational plan — one that would shift funding to promote remote learning for students who have to miss school instead of incentivizing sick students to be in school. 

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture and human interest stories.