Should high-achieving students be rewarded?

Most educators believe success should be its own reward for high-school students.
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash.

Most people strive to be successful in order to receive some type of reward, prize or recognition.

In public schools, students understand that a ‘C’ (or 70 percent) gets them a passing grade, even though it may not be the highest score they can achieve. For students to succeed at a higher rate, rewarding them could be an answer.

Steve Friedlander, an algebra teacher at Chiles High School, doesn’t completely agree.

“Students should learn that achieving high test scores is to be commended, but expected. Quizzes and tests should be rewarded to a small degree. Students on the nine-week honor roll are provided lunch here. That seems appropriate to me,” he said.

Most teachers are known for giving feedback written on the test, but some students appreciate the extra mile that educators may go to recognize their job well done. Based on the student and the relationship the teacher has with that student, rewards may come in different ways.

Shraddha Patel, a ninth-grade world history teacher at Godby High School, said, “I give them verbal praise based on the score. Depending on the student I may praise one for earning a 70 and another for earning a 95. I give praise based on what they are capable of for that assessment. I do not, (feel that students should be rewarded), I feel the score is reward enough-they worked hard and will be able to use the scores to reach their goal and that in its self is a reward.”

Some students may feel that teachers are being harsh or aren’t being fair when it comes to grading. As they get older and up into high school, rewards become a thing of the past. High test scores are praised like they should be, because now everyone is receiving them and gearing up for college.

“I am not sure how I feel about rewarding students for high test scores because I am a firm believer in reinforcing desired positive behavior with positive consequences, especially in education, but so many students struggle to simply pass these standardized tests that a system like that may only benefit a small percentage of students rather than encourage students to improve their performance and scores, so I believe data from trial studies would be needed to determine whether or not that would be effective,” Kyle Carr, a social studies teacher at Godby, said.

“Rewarding students with college credit might be good, but high scoring students probably already have the intention of going to college and have financial options anyway based on a likely history of scoring high on standardized tests.“Also, one of education’s biggest issues is bridging the achievement gap and attempting to improve the low scorers to improve standardized test pass rates, and those students may not intend to go to college or have the qualifications or financial options anyway, so offering college credit for performing well on a standardized test may not motivate them much anyway,” she added.