Maryland Middle School's Tiered Pizza Party System Rewards A Students

| by Lina Batarags

A Maryland middle school has created a tiered system that rewards students based on the grades they have received. Straight “A” students get to attend a pizza party featuring a DJ and a game room during the last period of school; “B” and “C” students are invited to the party once classes are over, but receive no pizza.

Students with grades below a “C” aren’t invited to the “Academic Achievement Celebration” at all.

This means that of Silver Spring’s Eastern Middle School’s 865 students, 306 found themselves without an invitation.

The school’s PTSA president Chris Rutledge has stood by the policy as encouraging excellence.

“The school has to, and does, help all children to strive to excel,” he said. “And when they do, it’s important to recognize them.”

Some parents, however, feel differently. Karon Hanlon, whose daughter has learning disabilities and numbers amongst the uninvited, is one of them.

“The students that don’t get to go end up feeling bad,” she said.

Barbara Marinak, an associate professor who studies student motivation, has pointed out another potential downside to the rewards system. Marinak claims the party “creates a caste system that could easily result in bullying and victimization.”

The system certainly does downplay the policies of grade privacy that many schools traditionally maintain. Rather than knowing only their own, personal grades, students will now be aware of who ranks in which grade-based “caste.”

“The intention is not to make those who didn’t achieve feel badly,” maintains the Montgomery school’s principal, Casey Crouse.

Crouse added that the school has different ways of recognizing students for different qualities; earlier in the week, students who had reached levels of academic improvement were rewarded with a certificate and a snack.


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