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Combatting declining attendance and achievement rates through an incentives-based approach: An evaluation of the Renaissance Program

John Francis McEwan, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Many high schools appear to be experiencing declining academic achievement and decreasing attendance. The Renaissance Program, which relies heavily on incentives, is currently being advocated nationally as a solution to these problems and has been implemented in many schools. The effectiveness of this program needs to be evaluated. School improvement literature from the Excellent Schools, the Essential Schools, and the Effective Schools calls for the institutional use of incentives to improve achievement. The Renaissance Program is an incentives-based approach used by Silver Lake Regional High School in order to improve motivation to achieve. It impacts students and teachers and is dependent on parents and the community for its success. Transforming (i.e., creative) leadership recommends that schools use incentives similar to those used in businesses. Psychological and educational research has shown that incentives are essential for effective motivation. An evaluation of the Renaissance Program at one suburban high school was undertaken by: (1) examining raw data concerning grades and attendance; (2) surveying a random sampling of students, teachers, and parents regarding their perceptions of the program; and (3) interviewing students, teachers, parents, and administrators, concerning their impressions about the effectiveness of the program. Since the implementation of the Renaissance Program, grades and attendance have improved and drop-out rates have decreased. Work attitudes and school spirit have also improved since the program was introduced. The program has been applicable to all students because of it is multi-faceted and flexible. There is teacher, parent, and community support for the program. However, in all three areas, there is a need for increased support. The program has been seen as mainly administrative-driven. There needs to be more student, parent, and teacher participation in the planning of the program. Student incentives need to be kept fresh but there does not seem to be a need for formal teacher incentives as part of the program. There is a great deal of support for the program and it has been seen as having a positive impact on the school as a whole.

Subject Area

School administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

McEwan, John Francis, "Combatting declining attendance and achievement rates through an incentives-based approach: An evaluation of the Renaissance Program" (1992). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9233105.