Student recognition programs can limit growth for historically
underserved students by not addressing student needs.
Historically Underserved students today are not the same
students of yesterday. In the 1960’s we embraced our new found
freedom in schools that resulted from the passing of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. During that time most student recognition
programs did not focus on historically underserved students. As
we moved to the present many student recognition programs focus
on redirecting social and academic behaviors of students.
While many student recognition programs have successfully
motivated some students it seems that most students are not
The fallacy with student recognition
programs is in the initial design.
Normally the process involves
identifying the student needs and then
developing student recognition
programs that will help overcome those needs. The program design
is facilitated by either teachers,
administrators, or some other adult stakeholder. The initial
process does not include appropriate student feedback nor does
it include students in the design process.
The design of a student
recognition program should begin
with an assessment process. Interviews are a great way to begin.
If it is a high school then interview students who are in the
twelfth grade. If it is a middle school then interview students
from the graduating class. Make sure to select students who have
challenges and those who don’t. Interviews will reveal
additional information if conducted by a school counselor.
Next survey your students and teachers. It is best to use a
survey where they check off their answer rather that fill in the
blank. Using a check off type of assessment instrument will also
increase the number of persons who complete the survey. In this
survey you should also gauge the type of reward system that best
fits the culture of your school. The final phase of the
assessment process is to evaluate school data for trends and
In the next step develop a focus group
that includes teachers and students. Students may only feel
comfortable in the presence of school counselors. Some of the
questions that you may want the group to consider are: How can
we improve our present program(s)? What is a good reward system
for students? How can we increase the amount of students who
benefit from the program?
Finally, develop an assessment process to
ensure program goals are