Should Florida students get rewards for passing the FCAT?
The Winter Haven News Chief today offers a story of a high school that struggled to get its students reading well enough to pass the FCAT. Since opening in 2008, Tenoroc High earned a D in the state's school grading system.
This year, the school looks likely to make a C. The school administration challenged kids to do better, and many delivered. The teens who performed best on the FCAT reading test won prizes -- Kindle Fires or a school day field trip to Universal Studio in Orlando. The awards were donated, so it wasn't school funds that covered the cost. But the concept still raises the key question: Should students be rewarded for doing well in school or on a test?
You can argue that going to school is the students' job, and so getting "paid" for their work makes sense in the same way that adults get a salary for their employment. But is that a fair comparison? Is the education itself not a reward, in a world where jobs for lesser-educated people are becoming increasingly scarce?
Studies have suggested that rewards can make a difference to students in certain circumstances. There's also the argument by Alfie Kohn that rewards, like punishments, are manipulative and could end up harming motivation in the long haul.