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High School Kills Color-Coded ID Program 406

Posted by timothy
from the but-cubberley-high-is-in-palo-alto dept.
theodp writes "Anaheim Union High School District has killed a controversial incentive program that assigned students color-coded ID cards and planners based on state test scores, required those who performed poorly to stand in a separate lunch line and awarded the others with discounts. The program was designed to urge students to raise scores on the California Standards Tests, but it also raised concern among parents and students who said it illegally revealed test scores and embarrassed those who didn't do well."
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High School Kills Color-Coded ID Program

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  • by bryan1945 (301828) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:17AM (#37660798) Journal

    Separate lines for lunch? Who could ever think this was a good idea. Sure, let the students doing well get some perks, just don't go around printing "Dumb" on the lesser achieving kids' foreheads. At least they wised up, even if it did take some external pressure to scrap the idea.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Main problem I see would be reversial. Once you've created a social group, even one based on failure, those members of it will seek to make the best of it. It could easily lead to a cool-to-be-dumb situation, where those in the failgroup are proud to be a part of it and look down on the boring lameness of the higher achievers.

      • Good on them. If they can make working at McDonalds feel better than doing an interesting job, then so be it.

        • Kids don't/can't think in terms of future careers because they have no real understanding of what those careers involve and thus what the consquences of those decisions actually are.

          The result of a test taken in 5 grade (*1) could adversely affect future asperations through peer pressure of the group.

          Note #1: I couldnt find out whether this scheme applied to all or just some of the Standardised Tests and so assume it work across all the tests, which start from Grade 5 (10-11 years old).
          • That's the hard part about modern America. We've let the education system slide so far down in funding that a decision you make in 5th grade will affect your chances you getting into college. I know lots of people in the 90s that blew it in school and made good later on because they could get into college with grants & scholarships. These days, with a 4 year degree costing $30k from a local State U (and that's just books & tuition, forget living expenses), it's not possible. I guess we could raise t
            • by Quila (201335) on Monday October 10, 2011 @11:04AM (#37663106)

              In fact, we're near the top for the amount of money we spend per pupil.

              The problem is much of that is wasted: bloated administrations, feel-good PC courses that don't help core education, and teachers unions that flat-out admit they don't give a damn about students.

              Add to that apathetic parents, and you have a crappy school system that won't get better no matter how much money we pump into it.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        So.... what you're saying is they naturally recreate how social cliques work in high school?

        You mean your typically below average intelligence individuals such as jocks and bullies didn't look down upon the high achieving nerds? God damn it must be raining cats and dogs.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:42AM (#37661000)

      How 'bout this. Starting with 5th grade give $1000 cash per year to each student in the top 5%. Then, the best might have $8000 ready for college and stand a fighting chance of actually being able to pay for it.

      • The problem with this is, the kids who need the money will blow it way before college, but if you do something like giving them a bond that they cant cash out til they graduate it removes the incentive for the student (at least until the last year or two of high school when it's not the distant future anymore).

        Maybe the best approach would be a combination. $200 cash, and $800 into a bond or CD that matures when they graduate. That way they would have a short term motivation as well as a long term benefit.

        Y

      • by eepok (545733) on Monday October 10, 2011 @09:41AM (#37661534) Homepage

        That sounds like a wonderful idea and I would have really loved it as a primary/secondary school student. But, that would have cost my high school $21,000 (400+ graduating class) for my graduating year... not to mention how that profit motive and even survival pressure from home would have further affected cheating at the top.

        And why cater to the top 5%? They're already the most likely to get scholarship funding.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SpeZek (970136)

          And why cater to the top 5%? They're already the most likely to get scholarship funding.

          Thank you very much for saying that.

          I was just about 3rd in my class. #1 guy was #1 across the board, so he snapped up thousands of dollars of scholarships. I got $800.

          #1 guy was from a wealthy, college educated family. He got a car for graduating, had an iphone, went on vacations to other countries, etc. I was from a working-class family, walked 2 km to school, and couldn't afford braces for my teeth or new sneakers. I needed those scholarships more than he did, and arguably, his domestic situation (not to

    • by deroby (568773)

      First thing I'd do is check which line is the longest and then adapt my grades accordingly... 'humiliation' be damned, functionality above everything I say !

      All joking apart, how would you manage to give perks to those who do well but _without_ anyone being able to notice that others are not getting said perks and thus by simple logic must be 'dumb' (your words) ?

      BTW, I'm not sure everyone with non-top scores are 'dumb'. Frankly, I'm pretty sure I was a big under-achiever at school (15 years ago) simply bec

      • by vlm (69642)

        All joking apart, how would you manage to give perks to those who do well but _without_ anyone being able to notice that others are not getting said perks and thus by simple logic must be 'dumb' (your words) ?

        Open your eyes? I hung out with a rather "diverse" group when I was in H.S. This was before the school equals prison movement got started. So our "hall monitors" were teachers walking from task to task, and an old granny or two. Now a days we have intimidation squads of SWAT and K9 units roaming the halls to teach the serfs they are just slaves to big brother and keep in their place. But I digress.

        Anyway, think back to high school a couple decades ago:

        1) I get caught in a minor (heck, even major) rule

        • by deroby (568773)

          The things you describe somehow only seem to work for people who like to "annoy the institution". I'm sure we need our rebels, and in a way I was one too although I never crossed the line where I could get caught for doing something "disturbing" (or even close to it)... I rather was the kid that kept asking the wrong (read: right) questions.
          Being observant and critical (and vocal about it) got me in the spotlight probably more than I had anticipated at times, but without exception it always had a positive e

      • All joking apart, how would you manage to give perks to those who do well but _without_ anyone being able to notice that others are not getting said perks and thus by simple logic must be 'dumb' (your words) ?

        Most of today's schools don't use cash for lunch purchase. Each student has an account that is debited when they go through the line. It would be easy enough to have lower prices be computed for those with better scores. I'm not promoting this idea, just answering your question. It wouldn't be completely invisible, but it could be substantially invisible.

      • by vlm (69642)

        All joking apart, how would you manage to give perks to those who do well but _without_ anyone being able to notice that others are not getting said perks and thus by simple logic must be 'dumb' (your words) ?

        Alternative answer #2... Think of the stereotypical "hot for teacher" pr0n genre... People wanna keep that kind of stuff very quiet, only change would be pairing up would occur based on test scores rather than who catches who's eye... I like this idea, because as an A++ physics student who in his second year of high school physics literally only got two things wrong during the entire year, I get the 23 year old ex- college cheer leader librarian for my "special tutoring session". Heck, even if nothing inap

      • All joking apart, how would you manage to give perks to those who do well but _without_ anyone being able to notice that others are not getting said perks and thus by simple logic must be 'dumb' (your words) ?

        You'd also be rewarding the wrong kids... there are kids like me out there... when I was in high school, I never did homework, I never studied, I played hookie more often than not in my final year, and I even got kicked out of one high school for telling the headmaster exactly what I thought of him (that he was a pompous self-absorbed officious bureaucrat with no concept of how people actually worked... I was right, but for some reason he didn't appreciate my candor). I also have eidetic memory, and was sti

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Separate lines for lunch? Who could ever think this was a good idea. Sure, let the students doing well get some perks, just don't go around printing "Dumb" on the lesser achieving kids' foreheads. At least they wised up, even if it did take some external pressure to scrap the idea.

      I don't see anything wrong with the idea. We're protecting these kids from "humiliation" but it's better to embarass them a bit then to let them fail their way into life where they'll get smacked really hard, no? I like the idea

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      I'm pretty sure the kids already know who the dumb ones are anyway. My old school didn't have anything like this program. But if you had asked me to point out the smart kids and the dumbasses, I wouldn't have had any trouble doing it.

    • by Xemu (50595)

      Separate lines for lunch? Who could ever think this was a good idea. Sure, let the students doing well get some perks, just don't go around printing "Dumb" on the lesser achieving kids' foreheads.

      I think we should implement separate lines for lunch in Anaheim City Hall, but I quickly realised it would be pointless as they would all be in the dumb line.

  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:18AM (#37660812)
    Anything and everything to motivate them. Coddling children doesn't do them any favors.
    • by amiga3D (567632)

      Isn't motivating children their parents job? I'm saddened that they even came up with an idea like this. Public humiliation is more likely to destroy motivation than provide it.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Isn't motivating children their parents job? I'm saddened that they even came up with an idea like this. Public humiliation is more likely to destroy motivation than provide it.

        I expect it would provide plenty of motivation .... but not necessarily to work harder. They'd better issue the teachers and "high color" kids with bulletproof vests if they roll this out nationwide - someone will crack.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          They'd better issue the teachers and "high color" kids with bulletproof vests if they roll this out nationwide - someone will crack.

          In my day, we called it "honor roll", and the names were listed in the hall on a big board. Sometimes the senors got a preferred parking spot or hall pass or something like that. We didn't have FastPass for lunch lines, but it's not a completely wacky extension of honor roll.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Isn't motivating children their parents job?

        Hate to break it to you, but a lot of parents don't do their jobs very well (this is especially true with the more poorly-performing kids). I knew a lot of kids in school who got bad grades, but who had plenty of ability. They didn't excel academically because their parents encouraged them to excel in everything BUT academics. I also knew kids whose parents were basically not even there at all--not even providing for their basic needs, much less encouraging them to excel.

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          That's sad. Truly sad. I have trouble even conceiving that. My children and now my grandchildren are treasures. My only regrets in life were the times I feel like I failed them. I made trips to school many, many times to talk with teachers and struggled so hard with my oldest because she lacked motivation. I wish I had done better even though she turned out well but you always feel like you could have done more. To think that parents don't care about their children's future seems impossible to believ

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Anything and everything to motivate them. Coddling children doesn't do them any favors.

      Totally agree with you about the codling. However it is one thing to motivate, it is another thing to humiliate. No matter what the intention, this sort of marking probably would lead to a hostile environment - and hence worsen the outcome rather than improve it.

      And at the risk of being Godwinned, visibly marking people by categories doesn't have a very good history.

      • The US has a history of separate lines ... but that was based on a visible marker that people could not remove

        There was the Dunces cap and that didn't work ...

        Perhaps the teachers should be visibly marked depending on how their students perform ?

        • by aslagle (441969)

          Ah, the ubiquitous assumption that student's grades are a function of teacher quality, and teacher quality alone.

          I hate to break it to you, but there is a substantial fraction of kids who just don't give a shit. You can be the best teacher in the world, but if there's no will from the student to learn, they won't do well.

          An education is like a stool. To get a good, solid one, you need three legs: a committed student, a good teacher, and supportive parents.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        And yet we do it in pretty much every High School in America. A big letter blazoned across the students chest to show that they are excelling. It is sad that so many people think this is a great idea right up to the point that we start doing it for intelligence instead of muscle.
    • Yeah! Stand them in the corner with a pointy hat with the word "Dunce" on it! That'll teach them!

      Rewarding is far, far better.

      In my daughter's school they offer reward cards; they're a bit like loyalty cards. Instead of the old gold stars, they are now given points that can be exchanged for material goods. A point for handing in homework, an extra point for handing it in early, points for winning competitions, be they sports or academic.

      By the end of the first year, if you do the minimum, you'll have enough for a Wii remote, cheap mobile phone, or little MP3 player. By the end of the fifth year, if you are a grade A++ student, attend all the after school clubs, etc, you'll have enough for a netbook.

      Sounds good to me.

      This is one of the new UK academies, if anyone is interested. And, one year in, is the highest ranking school in the somewhat deprived and poverty stricken area we live in.
      • by number17 (952777)
        Where does the money come to pay for this point system? Especially in a poverty stricken area. Studies on school fundraising here show that poverty stricken areas just don't have that kind of money. I don't think taxing the poor will result in that money either. I'm curious how the money flow's there as there must be some sort of redistribution going on.
      • by firex726 (1188453)

        That sounds like a great plan, so long as it's consistent.

        I've seen reward plans like this where the administrators were fickle with handling out points, you could do really good one day, and shitty the next and you'll get rewarded on the shitty day because the administrator was in a good mood. In that case it doesn't do much to help motivate since its no longer a result of MY action, but my superior's disposition.

      • by geekmux (1040042)

        Yeah! Stand them in the corner with a pointy hat with the word "Dunce" on it! That'll teach them! Rewarding is far, far better. In my daughter's school they offer reward cards; they're a bit like loyalty cards. Instead of the old gold stars, they are now given points that can be exchanged for material goods. A point for handing in homework, an extra point for handing it in early, points for winning competitions, be they sports or academic...

        I went to work today. On time even. That makes several days in a row. Where's my gold star? Do I get points for coming to work and doing my job? How many extra points do I get for staying after work to perform server maintenance after hours?

        My point here is school used to be the JOB and main purpose in life for damn near every person under the age of 18. Since when does every little action deserve a reward, trophy, or extra "points" for merely doing your JOB? Sure as hell doesn't work that way for th

      • by eepok (545733)

        I'd prefer not to give any rewards that don't have any direct connection to their current area of education. The profit motive with little/no oversight always breeds cheating. Furthermore, if that's not so much a problem (though I doubt it), when the rewards stop, they may stop attempting to achieve.

        Instead, the goal should always be to satisfy and enhance intellectual curiosity.

    • I'm torn on this. On the one hand, crack the whip and get some response from the lazy slackers. But on the other hand, not everybody is "college material", no matter the effort involved, and there's no shame in doing an honest day's work (or as the old adage goes, "the world needs ditch-diggers too").
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      If this high school is anything like my old one, I think the smart kids would probably be more embarrassed by this than the dumb ones. I took way more abuse for being smart than any dumbass ever did for being a moron.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Oh good, give the Jocks just one more reason to feel bad about themselves. That won't have any negative repercussions.

  • It's unwise to upset the natural order of things. Nerds, get to the back of the bus where you belong.
    • by Lumpio- (986581) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:21AM (#37660834)
      Funny. Here in Finland the back of the bus is traditionally reserved for the troublemakers. Just like the back of the classroom. Further away from the authorities (bus driver, teacher), less surveillance.
      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Funny. Here in Finland the back of the bus is traditionally reserved for the troublemakers. Just like the back of the classroom. Further away from the authorities (bus driver, teacher), less surveillance.

        In the UK we all wanted to ride on the back of the bus - especially the middle seat that looks down the isle. I've no idea why, but I remember learning about Rosa Parks in primary school and wondering why on earth she didn't want to sit at the back.

      • Not just in Finland. When I was taking the bus (Long Island, NY), it was jocks and popular kids in the back and nerds in the front. I'd often ride in the first row.

      • by firex726 (1188453)

        Same in the US when I was in school.

    • by Kabuthunk (972557)

      I've never understood this, but I grew up in the country. Where I was, your location on the bus was dictated by age. And you looked FORWARD to being at the back of the bus. Back seat was basically the grade 11's and 12's, and it worked its way younger until the youngest at the front.

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:27AM (#37660882)

    "Classification RED, friend computer!"

    "I'm sorry, that information is not available at this time."

    • by garcia (6573)

      Sorry, no car analogy this time ;-)

      Don't we already classify students, making it obvious when they do not perform well by putting them in cohorts which take lower division coursework together?

      There are a ton of nerds here. Most of us probably took AP coursework throughout HS and some of us may have been honors students in undergrad. We then went on to graduate programs afterward. I want to know how this will be viewed any differently than knowing that you were absolutely terrible in Gym and History classes

      • I think its kind of funny that the negative impact of being lower-scoring, instead of driving the kids to become higher-scoring, drove them to complain about how it hurts their feelings. Its so ironic you can taste metal.

        Saying it hurts your feelings to be classified as lower achieving has no impact on the reality that one is actually lower achieving. It changes nothing, and you're still dumb whether or not someone says it. If there is anything to learn from this complaint it is that the program did not

  • Well in any case, effective education is a huge problem, especially with No Child Left Behind screwing things up even more, and something needs to be done. That something should be to stop passing everyone and making tests so easy a rhesus monkey could come out with a HD. This is a rather misguided way to address the problem. Rather than humiliating every kid who doesn't do terribly well, what about providing more support and time? Did they consider that?
  • I've read studies in the past that have shown that children, whether intelligent or struggle to learn, benefit greatly from encouragement rather than either reward or punishment. I truely believe in this.

    By all means reward children for doing well, but certainly not punish those who struggle. Everybody is different and will excel at different subjects and it's entirely possible that some may be undiagnosed dyslexics or even have eyesight issues.

    In any case, children should be praised for the work they
    • by RazzleFrog (537054) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:34AM (#37660960)

      It's human nature in general - not just for students - that we are more successful and more happy when we do things that challenge and excite us than when we do things for the sake of rewards or to prevent punishment. What's even worse is that once we've done something for reward it is even less appealing when we stop receiving the award again.

      For example, somebody who take photos for fun decides to become a professional photographer. Once they start getting paid it becomes yet another job and loses the fun. Even when they quit doing it for pay it still doesn't hold the appeal it did before.

      The same goes for children and education. Telling a class they will get a pizza party if they all pass an exam is an awful strategy for motivating students. If you instead instill excitement and interest in the topic itself they will not only do well on the exam but they often will go BEYOND the requirements of the exam because they are excited about the topic.

      • by amiga3D (567632)

        They need to put you in charge of that school system. I've already posted on this topic or I would mod you up. Most intelligent post I've seen so far.

      • by eepok (545733)

        We stopped offering rewards based on cohort goal attainment a long time ago. We found that students would get the bad news of not being eligible to receive their prizes, get their assignments/tests back, then, later, swap scores to find out who "screwed it up" for everyone else. That child was then mocked and ostracized.

        What is best, as you say, is to work hard at finding the best ways to interest *every* student in the classroom. And that's hard work.

  • by gfxguy (98788) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:32AM (#37660946)

    For the same reason kids wear their pants around their asses, if it makes them look "bad," they would revel in it. These are the same kids flunking out already anyway. Perhaps if you just come right out and call their behavior 'stupid' instead of trying to coddle them, perhaps if you worry more about their futures instead of worry about offending them, it might help some tiny fraction of them.

    In today's culture, I picture the kids in the "smart" lines being bullied and ostracized instead of the other way around, though.

    • by eepok (545733)

      They revel in it as a defense mechanism. They're not going to sulk in the line. They're going to find people like them and claim that their area is better by virtue of them being there. It's called being human.

      Take a bad kid, teach him/her well, let the child show mom/dad/grandma/social worker how amazingly hard they've worked in school and you'll see that attitude change. But it won't change without that special attention... the special attention the high achievers receive from advanced elementary school

  • "revealed test scores and embarrassed those who didn't do well"
    Sheesh! That will happen soon enough. "Do you want fries with that..."
    'nuf said.

  • Unintended effects (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:41AM (#37660992) Homepage

    (A) Test scores are heavily correlated with demographic factors such as race and social class. In fact, there's some evidence that they're correlated more with those sorts of demographics than they are with factors like time spent studying. So whether it was intended or not, it's quite possible that the effect of this would have been to separate out, with official sanction, the generally wealthier white and Asian-American kids from the mostly poorer black and Hispanic kids, and treat the first group better than the second group.

    (B) For kids who's friends are generally anti-intellectual, they might be more embarrassed to be in the "smart" line rather than the "stupid" line. If you're in a crowd where most everybody is heading nowhere in life and knows it, they will often single out the people who are going somewhere for bullying to try to make themselves feel better about their utter lack of prospects.

    (C) Threats only get kids to fake learning, not to really learn stuff. You can get kids to pretend to go to study groups but really just hang out with friends. You can get kids to cram for the next exam and promptly forget everything the next day. You can get kids to cheat on their test to avoid school or parental consequences. But you can't get kids to really learn and internalize what they're supposed to know with threats - for that you need to actually give them a goal that their learning will help accomplish.

  • It's about money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:41AM (#37660994)

    This is what comes from tying performance to pay. I know schools here are awarded more money from the state as well as teacher performance bonuses for better scores on standardized tests. It's had this kind of push here as well. Lots of schools have even been caught cheating to get their scores up. Desperation brings on this kind of craziness.

    • Re:It's about money (Score:4, Interesting)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:50AM (#37661052)
      I've worked in a secondary school with performance based pay, and I've heard at least one member of staff tell a disruptive student that in the performance based pay scheme, there is room to let one or two children utterly fail in order for the rest to achieve, and that he was one of the "acceptable failures".

      Not sure if she has that job anymore.
      • What is the option? Let the one disrupt the class so none are educated? We (in education) are under the tyranny of the minority, catering to those on the dark fringes. It surely isn't helping the 80% that want to be there and learn. Penalize the good because we're too afraid to penalize the bad?

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:45AM (#37661028) Homepage

    Let's start by color coding the ID's of the people who thought of this plan to a bright red banning them from using the lunchrooms altogether.

    AFAIK, the most effective way to motivate children to perform better in school is to actually treat them the same as better performing children; people tend to behave in the way you treat them.

  • by Madman (84403) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:46AM (#37661032) Homepage

    As a parent I'd be more worried about my kid being targeted for being smart than stupid. Maybe in addition to a nice bracelet they should give the good scorers Jujitsu classes as well so they can protect themselves from the jocks.

    • That was my thought also. "Billy? You're in the green line? Hey, everyone! Billy's a NEEEERRRRDDDD!!!!" Cue a choice for Billy: 1) Years of torment if he maintains those high grades, or 2) Being left along if he drops his scores back down to average. Way to promote being average instead of pushing yourself to get your best potential.

  • "[...] illegally revealed test scores [...]"
    What, test scores are secret now ? So much easier to manipulate them in that case...
  • Actually fail them when they fail? Rather than slow a senior English class down to the level of the kid with a third grade reading level, just fail the people that can't keep up. That is motivation in itself. There are no one worries about bad grades or failing anymore because they know that they will be babied through school and not have to lift a finger to get their diploma.

    If it weren't for No Child Left Behind then schools wouldn't have as much need to come up with off the wall programs like this.

  • Alfie Kohn's body of work makes good reading for a sensible approach to education based on how kids actually learn.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfie_Kohn [wikipedia.org]

    In this instance, his book "Punished by Rewards" is required reading.
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=alfie+kohn&x=0&y=0 [amazon.com]

    Essentially, when we reward for high scores (instead of focusing on improving actual learning), we get these kinds of decisions and further reinforcement of counterproductive outcome

  • No Lunch Left Behind?

  • The district should have run a pilot program with some volunteer students to get an idea of the projected improvement in scores so reluctant parents would have been convinced. Run a pilot and look at the numbers and you can show parents a simple graph of scores before the program vs scores after it.
    That way the parents would have had an idea how their kids were going to benefit from it. It removes all the emotion from it and all the "good kids deserve perks" or "humiliation works to make things better" wh

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