Wristbands for students who scored “proficient” or “advanced” on the state exam, plus an invitation to a barbecue, spurred a parent protest at Thorner Elementary School in Bakersfield, California.
“It’s good to recognize kids, but they’re humiliating the kids who didn’t do well,” (parent Charlie) Pike said.
This, he said, was unfair to students who traditionally score lower on standardized tests and might not reach proficiency no matter how hard they try — mainstreamed special education students, for example.
After Pike complained, the school included all students in the barbecue, which featured hot dogs and chips. But the debate continues, reports the Bakersfield Californian.
. . . parents, teachers, administrators and testing experts say schools must be careful when rewarding students on how they do on state tests. It’s more important to reward student gains, or the student body as a whole, than subgroups, they say.
Proficiency can be “an unfair target” for some students, said Morgan Polikoff, a University of Southern California professor.
About 60 percent of Thorner Elementary students scored proficient or better in English last school year, 67 percent in math, and 40 percent in science. That’s significantly higher than the local average in English and math.
Phillip Brown of the California Teachers Association, said it’s a mistake to reward students based on test scores.
“It’s a very positive thing to recognize kids for their achievements,” Brown said. “But you recognize them as a group for working together and working hard. Recognition needs to be where it enhances and brings everybody in at the same time.”
Students can be recognized for achievement only as a group? Just like teachers.
Recognizing students who make significant progress, along with those who’ve achieved proficiency, would make sense. But the idea that it’s unfair to honor achievers . . .