Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NY: Monroe County schools reward good behavior


Over the past two months, Tim Roeser has volunteered for the scut work at Rush-Henrietta Senior High School.

The 10th-grader has cleaned cafeteria tables. He has helped his teachers after class. Normally, such efforts might go unrewarded, but this year he is being recognized for his good deeds under the district's new positive behavior initiative.

Recently, Roeser was surprised in class by the school mascot and given a $15 iTunes gift card as a prize for receiving more R.O.A.R. cards — short for recognizing outstanding attributes at Rush-Henrietta Senior High School — than any student this year.

The cards recognize students for displaying traits like responsibility, respectfulness and integrity.

"We're finding that students like to be acknowledged, and we're trying many different ways to do that," said associate principal Chris Barker.

Like other districts across Monroe County, Rush-Henrietta recently launched a positive behavior program with a goal of improving student engagement and reducing disciplinary problems.

The programs vary at each district, but most seek to encourage good character through repeated instruction and incentives like prizes and recognition from school leaders.

So far, it's been a good start, said Barker. Disciplinary referrals at the high school have dropped by 50 percent, he said.

Other districts report similar progress. At Spencerport High School, where a behavioral reinforcement program has been in place for about seven years, only 72 out of 1,500 students had disciplinary referrals over the first five weeks of school, and most of those were for using cell phones, said principal Ty Zinkiewich.

Advocates say these programs work by creating positive environments and making clear expectations for students.

"What we're trying to do is focus on explaining behavioral expectations so there are no misunderstandings," said Annette McCabe, assistant principal of Willink Middle School in Webster.

However, such programs are nothing new. "I've been in education for 37 years, and I've seen an awful lot (of the programs) come and go," said Jane Bluestein, founder of Instructional Support Services Inc., a consultation and research firm in Albuquerque, N.M.

For the Full Article, click here: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20091110/NEWS01/911100321/1002/NEWS/Monroe-County-schools-reward-good-behavior

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