Test Score Bribery

As you know, test scores and data are a big factor in a teacher’s life. The NCLB act has added even more to the stress faced by educators. However, I was shocked to read that some schools have decided to try bribing students for good test results. I recently read an article about a school in Miami that offered rewards to students with good scores. Naturally, they did not use the term bribery. They considered the act a way of trying to motivate students to excel.

Florida has recently added science to its list of state comprehension assessments. The scores from the test are included in the students’ final pass or fail grade. If students do not do well on the test, they possibly may not receive a high school diploma. Failure does not compliment a school’s record. This particular high school decided to offer prizes, such as prom tickets plus limo service and iPods, to students who scored above a level 3.

So is it moral or right to offer rewards for students to score high on state assessments? I am sure that it probably is not the worst thing a school can do. We bribe our children to be good in church by taking snacks and toys. We hand our cell phones to our beloved screaming toddlers in Wal-Mart. So why not offer students rewards for test scores? I do not think that it is a bad idea. I just think that it is bad timing. Why wait until the test? Before my county’s state assessment, we send notes home with the children. It is the same every year; get a good night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, and be at school on time. Do we not want this everyday? Why remind parents only during testing? Would it not be a better idea to do these things all year long and encourage students to score well all year? Once parents are in the habit of making sure their children are prepared for learning, and students are accustomed to doing their best and having good scores, it will no longer be necessary to offer incentives for these things. They will come naturally.

Perhaps reminders and tips could be sent home to parents on a weekly basis, and students could be rewarded for good effort each grading period. I am sure that there are other ways to encourage the desired behavior. Over the next few days, let us put our minds together and create some more!

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