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Mountain View Students Respond To Reward System

Mountain View Middle School is shaking out the wrinkles in its new system of discipline and rewards for student behavior.

Now starting its second year, the program is called the honors level system. This year’s changes mostly emphasize the positive.

“You’ve got to have the carrot a little closer,” said Clayton Andersen, parent of a Mountain View student.

There’s plenty of positive in this program. Students who choose good behavior stay on honor level 1 and reap all sorts of rewards: field trips, free milkshakes, pizzas and other freebies at video stores or grocery stores. Improvements from poor behavior to better behavior earn rewards, too.

The system has produced a marked improvement in students’ behavior. Between 87 percent and 92 percent of students complied with school rules last year. Mountain View principal Susan Kincaid said the school had no record-keeping from previous years to compare with. But comments from parents, teachers and substitutes all reflect improvment. Particularly eighth-graders, who normally start tugging on the reins toward the end of the school year, Kincaid said, remained largely on best behavior.

“Wow - what a change,” said Andersen, who worked on the committee developing the program last year.

Andersen first came on board as a critic. He was unhappy with a situation that developed between his sixth-grade son and a teacher. But the computerized record-keeping used in the honor level program showed Andersen that his son was having similar problems in other classrooms.

“When you see the probelem is not just happening with one teacher but with everyone, that changes everything,” Andersen said. By the end of the year, the consequences and rewards in the program brought about strong improvement to his son’s behavior.

Students who choose undesired behavior receive warning and then demerits. A certain number of demerits drops a student from level one, to level two, level three or level four. Consequences range from 15-minutes lunch detention, all the way to Saturday detentions.

Five days’ worth of good behavior bumps a student back up a level, with rewards available at each step.

Vikkie Carpenter, mother of an eighth-grade boy at Mountain View, handled the search for donations for rewards last year, pulling in between $5,000 and $7,000 in cash, gift certificates and in-kind donations. She’s ready to knock on doors again, this year.

“I was very surprised, especially with the smaller businesses that were just starting out, how generous they were,” Carpenter said, adding that business people clearly supported the idea of rewarding good behavior.

“Some of these students really don’t get a lot of discipline at home,” Carpenter said. The program gives students needed structure, she said.

The list of behaviors resulting in demerits is detailed. It includes failure to bring supplies to class (1 demerit); too much display of affection (3 demerits); using inappropriate verbal or body language (5 demerits) and failure to settle conflicts in an appropriate maner (5 demerits).

, DataTimes

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