Hillcrest Needs APP

Sarah Baird, Pawprint Staff Reporter

Low attendance during APP has been a big concern of Hillcrest administration and staff this year. Many students decide to sluff instead of using APP to catch up on work or talk to teachers.

Their concerns are valid, but getting rid of APP will not increase overall attendance and instead will make life more difficult for students who use their APP time wisely. Kids skipping APP won’t care if APP’s removed, but the students who need APP and use it well will. 

Removing APP would be an incredibly severe case of collective punishment (when an entire group is punished for the actions of individuals) – and even the smallest versions of collective punishment (like going late to recess) usually end up backfiring.

“I attended a middle school… that was big on ‘collective responsibility, in which everyone faces the consequences when someone screws up,” a 7th grade English teacher (under the username “Captain Awesome”) wrote. “As a massive nerd and somewhat of a social pariah, I spent years missing recess, sitting in assigned seats in the cafeteria, and writing a hundred times that I wouldn’t do something that I had not, in fact, done. The idea was that the ‘good kids’ would put pressure on the ‘bad kids’ to change their behavior since it affected the entire group. That didn’t work… As a teacher, I try really hard to avoid group punishments… I won’t be sending a whole class to lunch detention any time soon, because I like interventions that actually work.”

As is apparent from their experience, collective punishments negatively affect the well-behaved students a lot more than the ones who were responsible for the problem. Not only is that cruel, but it also doesn’t do anything to help fix the problem, which, in this case, is truancy.

School is already incredibly stressful, and skipping APP is a chance to catch up and destress. A school employees’ focus should be on eliminating any unnecessary stress students are facing, not adding more by getting rid of time to do homework. 

As previously mentioned, a desire to keep APP does not negate the issue of truancy during that time. However, if a student is going to skip part of the school day, it’s better that they only miss APP instead of an actual class, especially if it was an AP or IB class. If students are going to leave campus from 9:00 to 9:45, keeping APP and having it act as a “cushion” is the best way for those students to still be successful in school. 

There’s still the question of what Hillcrest can do about attendance during APP. The best method to increase attendance is to provide a positive incentive. Recent research has shown that rewards are better at changing behavior than punishments. 

“People often find positive reinforcement easier to swallow than other methods of training, since it doesn’t involve taking anything away or [introducing] a negative consequence,” Courtney Ackerman, M.A. wrote for Psychology Today. “It’s also much easier to encourage behaviors than to discourage them, making reinforcement a more powerful tool than punishment in most cases.”


This reward could be multiple things, like a treat or a Husky Card. For students who consistently have issues with attendance, working out a personalized reward system would be a good idea. That likely would increase their attendance even more than those generalized rewards.

Giving a reward for attending APP, not getting rid of APP, is the best way to fix the attendance problem.