New incentive-based homework policy sees initial success at Scott City middle school

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Scott City middle school educators are pleased with the results of a school board-mandated change in homework policy which, as an added benefit, has boosted parental involvement.

In October the Scott City school board voted to change the middle school homework policy from a consequence-based system to an incentive-based system. The new system began at the beginning of the second quarter, which ended Monday, and principal Paul Sharp said he thinks the program was a great success.

"It surpassed our expectations," Sharp said.

Teachers like Leanne Grant, an eighth-grade communication arts teacher, saw an immediate change in their students as soon as the incentive-based homework program began.

"I had students that never cared about the tutoring aspect because they're used to serving detentions; they're used to that kind of consequence to the things that they do and some of those students were asking daily whether or not they had missed an assignment," Grant said.

The new program also helped get some of the parents involved.

"The parents got to the point where they were concerned because their kids were so concerned about whether or not they were going to miss the field trip," she said.

Grant said that she expects some of the parents to use the end-of-the-quarter field trip to entice their children into doing their homework and turning it for the rest of the year.

After the field trip, a few parents called Grant to ask what assignments their child missed, which opened a whole new line of communications between Grant and her students' parents.

Interaction with parents

"Before when they went to tutoring we didn't have that kind of interaction," Grant said.

One hundred and one out of the 246 students missed only one homework assignment during the second quarter and as a reward went on a field trip to the Natural History Museum in Bollinger County. In addition, the students had pizza for lunch.

The current homework policy will continue for the rest of the school year.

While traditionally the third quarter sees a drop in grades, Sharp said that he hopes the reward system encourages students to keep their grades up.

At the end of the year students who were eligible for at least one quarter will have their names put in a hat for a grand prize drawing, Sharp said.

Under the current homework policy, parents are notified by the student's teacher at the first and second missed homework assignment and by Sharp on the third missed homework assignment.

During the first quarter, parents were notified by the teacher on the first missed homework assignment and the student did not receive any credit. Parents were again notified by the teacher for the second through fourth missed assignments and the student had to attend a tutoring detention where they were able to make up the missed assignments for half credit. Transportation home from that tutoring session was provided.

From the fifth missed assignment on, the teacher and Sharp notified the parents and the student got a detention and received no credit for his or her homework and did not get a ride home.

ameyer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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