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What do you think about school merit awards?


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#26 JJ

Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:49 AM

My DD's school has a system where they collect so many small awards (which they may be given in class, PE, library, choir, scripture etc.), then for 5 of those they get an "Iron" (bigger award), then it goes Bronze (6 more awards needed), Silver (7), Gold (8). Just about every kid makes it to Bronze by the end of the year. There's only so many awards a teacher can hand out per term. Most teachers also have clear favourites and it quickly becomes obvious who they are (the names are published in the newsletter). You can pretty much put money on who will get a Gold first. Sad but true.

Frankly I think it's a load of crap and I know a lot of parents at the school are very dissatisfied with the system. There was a rumour late last year that they would stop it because so many parents had complained, but it looks like it's set to go on this year.

The good, quiet achievers who never get in trouble, do their work and do it well and treat their peers well, don't seem to get many. I can understand that children with behavioural or learning issues may need the confidence boost more, but that doesn't mean the other kids don't deserve & need recognition.

My gorgeous, hard-working, well-behaved DD actually started saying "I must be stupid because I never get any awards" by the end of last year (I think she was the only girl in her class who only made it to Bronze). I had a hell of a time convincing her that it wasn't the case, but couldn't really explain to her why she'd missed out so much. I guess it was a pretty powerful lesson in "life isn't always fair", but not one I would have wished on her at that age. It was the same for a friend whose two children are also really well-behaved, smart and ambitious. On the other hand, a couple of kids who were actually bullying my DD (and not doing that well academically either) just kept on pocketing the awards. And yes, at the risk of being one of "those parents", I expressed my concerns to the principal - I know I wasn't the only one, but I doubt it'll change anything.

My DS is at a different school and they have a similar system. He opted out of it years ago (he's in Yr 6 now) and I think that's probably the best thing to do.

(Please excuse the rant. They're obviously a bit of a bug bear of mine. wink.gif)

Edited by JJ, 15 March 2012 - 10:20 AM.


#27 tothebeach

Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:57 AM

QUOTE
Although it backfires - if kids work out they get one at least once a term - why would they bother 'trying' for the rest of the term.


See, at our school, I don't see them as being 'earned' - children don't try to get them.  Rather there are clear behaviour expectations of all children and sometimes, something special about the way you are behaving is recognised in front of the whole school.

#28 My4Sunshines

Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:58 AM

I like them, or perhaps they way our school does it.

There is an assembly every Monday morning the Principal asks who has had a birthday that week and those kids stand up and get an applause, then;
* one child from every grade (prep - 6) is chosen for an ' O.... (name of school) Oscar' now this could be for anything- great work, behaviour, helping, always smiling- anything,
* then there are sports awards for helping to learning a skill to participation,
* WOW awards (worker of the week) any number of students from any class who the teacher thinks that child should receive this award and that piece of work gets displayed in the office foyer for the week
* then there are music awards for a number of students in the choir
* and then 1 child is chosen each week from the whole school to receive a VGK award (Very Good Kid). One teacher a week talks about the Value of the week (Polite, Helpful etc..) and they choose one child to receive this award and they are also presented with a VGK badge and are announced in the newsletter. This is pretty prestigious as not every child will get one of these, so its very exciting to hear the speech from the teachers.

All the kids in the school are recognised in one way or another and they all know how it works and they will get a turn at one of the awards during the year.

Its pretty amazing to watch these kids faces beaming each week, I think it is brilliant
I never had anything like that in PS

Perhaps you could explain to your daughter that each child will do some great work that the teacher believes should be awarded and she will get a turn, it will just be a surprise when it happens.
My daughter in Prep got the first of the year so she now gets to watch the rest of her class mates get their awards. She has been to many assemblies before she started though to watch her sisters so she has an idea of what goes on.

I understand it is hard for them watching it happen to others when she has been doing so well, hang in there, surprises happen when you least expect it original.gif

#29 BadCat

Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:18 AM

I hate them.

More specifically I hate the way our school does it.

At assembly once every two weeks, two kids from each class will get a merit award.  Everyone knows that everyone will get two each year.  Even the new kids have figured it out pretty quickly.

It just makes them pretty worthless when you know you'll get one even if you are repeatedly put on suspension, even if you are suspended for choking a classmate, even if you routinely tell the teacher to go f themselves and throw things around the classroom (yes they are all real examples).


OP, find out whether everyone gets one eventually and how they do it.  In our school the lazier teachers just go through the roll in order, others mix it up.

Once you know how it works, just tell your DD.  I don't think there's any point in trying to pretend that it's some big honour when it's just a perfunctory piece of paper handed out for whatever reason the teacher can think of on the day.

Edited by BadCat, 15 March 2012 - 10:19 AM.


#30 SarDonik

Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:40 AM

QUOTE (imamumto3 @ 14/03/2012, 08:48 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
every child gets a "turn" of getting a merit award


WHAT!???

So it's not a merit award then, because it's not being awarded for merit, every kid receives one regardless of what they have done. This essentially negates any valid prize a child may have been awarded for actual meritable work.

Edited by SarDonik, 15 March 2012 - 10:43 AM.


#31 barrington

Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:03 AM

QUOTE (JJ @ 15/03/2012, 09:49 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The good, quiet achievers who never get in trouble, do their work and do it well and treat their peers well, don't seem to get many. I can understand that children with behavioural or learning issues may need the confidence boost more, but that doesn't mean the other kids don't deserve & need recognition.

I agree with this.  

What is the point of some awards if the well-behaved, quiet child is consistently overlooked for doing 'the right thing' all of the time.  

I have to say that I'm pretty chuffed at DS's teacher this year.  I was completely floored that he received an award in the first term of this year, usually he is one of the last ones in the class to receive one.

#32 Mrs Optimus

Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:19 AM

I think they are a great idea for helping motivate kids.

My DS got on yesterday.. I was so proud and happy for him.

He got the music award.  biggrin.gif My Mum, sister and I were there for his assembly item and he got the award too.. we cheered. He got embarrassed.. hahahaha..

Really though. He tries so hard and is really smart, but he seems to go under the radar a bit because he doenst struggle with the work. I think this'll give him a great boost.  biggrin.gif

#33 SarDonik

Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:30 AM

QUOTE (Mrs Optimus @ 15/03/2012, 11:19 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think they are a great idea for helping motivate kids.


Definitely. But I think it's unfair on the kids who work and study hard to have their prize diminished somewhat by every other kid getting an award. And ironically it's the good students who will ultimately end up demotivated - why work hard to get a prize when I can do very little and get one anyway..

#34 Julie3Girls

Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:35 AM

QUOTE
So it's not a merit award then, because it's not being awarded for merit, every kid receives one regardless of what they have done. This essentially negates any valid prize a child may have been awarded for actual meritable work.

Doesn't negate it at all.

It is still a merit award. Sure, every child might get a "turn", that just means the teacher is able to focus/highlight something positive for every child.
It's not a general "you are great and wonderful" award. They are specific. They are great for re-inforcing positive behaviours, encouraging children who are struggling, acknowledging great acheivements and recognising consistantly good behaviours.

One of the kinder awards last week was to a little boy. The award was showing so much improvement in writing his name.  Now my kinder child, she has been writing her name for a couple of years. If she had been given an award for writing her name, I would have laughed about what a totally useless award it was.

But the little boy who got it, has been struggling big time. He has vision problems and hearing problems, both only just identified recently. And he has been working soooooo hard at being able to simply write his name. The improvement he has made,  that is "actual meritable work"

A child who has high anxiety might get an award for settling in so well in her new class. Because for her, that is a big achievement.
Another child might get an award for being a delight in the classroom - she is a lovely child who does her work, smack bang average in all her schoolwork, but she does it all, with a smile, is lovely and polite to everyone, obeys all the rules. The sort of child who would normally not be recognised because it's nothing outstanding, but this is a way of acknowledging her.

Giving all the kids a merit certificate allows them to recognise different levels of abilities, and have different goal posts for different children.

The kids don't compare why they got an award. And usually, they are really happy when their friends get an award.
And there are still the "big" awards at the end of year assembly.

Edited by Julie3Girls, 15 March 2012 - 11:36 AM.


#35 coffeetogo

Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:36 AM

QUOTE (*LucyE* @ 14/03/2012, 09:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I prefer to encourage my children to be intrinsically motivated rather than Using a rewards based system. I can't change what the school does but I can talk to my kids about how these certificates have little value.



I agree with this.

#36 SarDonik

Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:39 AM

QUOTE (Julie3Girls @ 15/03/2012, 11:35 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Doesn't negate it at all.

It is still a merit award. Sure, every child might get a "turn", that just means the teacher is able to focus/highlight something positive for every child.
It's not a general "you are great and wonderful" award. They are specific. They are great for re-inforcing positive behaviours, encouraging children who are struggling, acknowledging great acheivements and recognising consistantly good behaviours.

One of the kinder awards last week was to a little boy. The award was showing so much improvement in writing his name.  Now my kinder child, she has been writing her name for a couple of years. If she had been given an award for writing her name, I would have laughed about what a totally useless award it was.

But the little boy who got it, has been struggling big time. He has vision problems and hearing problems, both only just identified recently. And he has been working soooooo hard at being able to simply write his name. The improvement he has made,  that is "actual meritable work"

A child who has high anxiety might get an award for settling in so well in her new class. Because for her, that is a big achievement.
Another child might get an award for being a delight in the classroom - she is a lovely child who does her work, smack bang average in all her schoolwork, but she does it all, with a smile, is lovely and polite to everyone, obeys all the rules. The sort of child who would normally not be recognised because it's nothing outstanding, but this is a way of acknowledging her.

Giving all the kids a merit certificate allows them to recognise different levels of abilities, and have different goal posts for different children.

The kids don't compare why they got an award. And usually, they are really happy when their friends get an award.
And there are still the "big" awards at the end of year assembly.


Ok gotcha. Makes sense.

Edited by SarDonik, 15 March 2012 - 11:40 AM.


#37 tothebeach

Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:45 AM

QUOTE
So it's not a merit award then, because it's not being awarded for merit, every kid receives one regardless of what they have done. This essentially negates any valid prize a child may have been awarded for actual meritable work.

Every child (at our school at least) does something of merit.  All the reward does is recognise it.  The award is very specific about what the meritable action is (and it is not in comparison to someone else's yardstick).  Our school works very hard to recognise the individual.

Edited by tothebeach, 15 March 2012 - 11:46 AM.


#38 mumto3princesses

Posted 15 March 2012 - 06:49 PM

Honestly, I HATE them.

Our school does Bronze Awards. If they get 5 Bronze Awards then they get a Silver Award. Then 3 Silver gets them a Gold. Which also earns them a Pizza Party with the Principal. If they get 3 Gold then they get a School Medal. (It's from kindergarten right through to Year 6) They make a big thing of their Awards and how every child has the opportunity to receive the School Medal.

Well, DD1 who was always very well behaved, always completed her work, was even 1 of only a few that represented the school on the Anzac Day March (even only 2 out of the 6 captains and prefects went) and always tried hard etc only got her first Gold award in Year 5. Then in Year 6 we saw some kids get their medal and there was quite a few well known naughty kids and even 1 that was suspended for a while that year.

#39 SeaPrincess

Posted 17 March 2012 - 11:36 PM

DS1's old school did half a dozen certificates from each class, so 36+each assembly and they were a joke, not to mention that  we'd sat through 40 minutes of assembly before they even started giving them out.  Fortunately DS1's prep class only went to 1 or 2 assemblies each term.

His new school has assembly once a fortnight, and each teacher gives out 2 awards per week, including the sports, music and art teachers.  I haven't been to an assembly yet because DS1 hasn't received an award yet, but I much prefer this system.  I know DS1's teacher also sometimes sends children to the office with their good work and they get a certificate and a sticker from the deputy or principal. I know these encourage DS to try hard in a way that I can't motivate him. I can't comment on whether everyone gets a turn yet, but last week one of the children got a classroom award and an award from one of the specialist teachers, so they don't limit them on a weekly basis.

I don't have a problem with merit awards and rewards because I think it's far better to place emphasis on achievement as a way of encouraging children to work hard or behave in a certain way than to punish them for not meeting expectations.

R

#40 Ducky*Fuzz

Posted 17 March 2012 - 11:42 PM

My DD was upset she didn't get one and her friend did.  SHe said to me "I do the same work as XX but I didn't get one and she did".

I told her to suck it up, she'd get one when the teacher wanted to give her one and asked if she wanted XX to be sad when she got an award or happy.  

She said she'd want xx to be happy, so I told her she should be happy for XX.

#41 Julie3Girls

Posted 18 March 2012 - 05:26 PM

QUOTE
I also think this trend of making sure every student receives an award is pointless. It raises expectations from the children and some will then whine about why they have not received one yet. I think awards should be for significant achievements that a child has worked hard for, whether it is academic, sport or being a good citizen.

But how do you define a significant achievement? By sharing the awards around, the teachers are able to recognise "significant achievements" on an individual level.
If you are only giving awards to the top achievers in the class, then you are totally ignoring the achievements that the kids at the lower end of the class might be making.

Some kids work really hard to be at the top of the class. Some kids work really hard to just make some small step, that has come easily to everyone else.

And do you really think that only giving out awards to the very top is going to stop other kids whining about not getting one?
,

#42 runlikethewind

Posted 18 March 2012 - 05:38 PM

I think that students need to learn to be happy for others and to wait their turn. I also think parents need to realise these awards are not just for the top academic students. They are for everyone. Even Joe Blow, who might struggle with every area deserves one if he makes a minor improvement that may be huge for him.
As a teacher if I have a student with a bad attitude, who does not contribute positively to the class IN ANY WAY and has no value for education then no, they don't get one just because their mum might be in the audience tapping her foot.
And what many parents may not realise is that their little darling who excels in the classroom is also the little darling in the class who is spiteful and mean towards other children. Again, not a top priority for an award.

#43 OTP

Posted 18 March 2012 - 08:09 PM

I think they are creating a generation of sooky kids and overbearing parents. Why do kids need awards when they should be happy to simply achieve for the sake of it. So happy that it is not something we have at our school.

#44 BronR

Posted 18 March 2012 - 09:02 PM

I find the system at our school confusing for the child.

DS is in year 1. This year he has received 1 from the music teacher and 1 from the drama teacher but none from the class teachers (he has 2 teachers) even though they gushed about him at parent teacher interview. Last year in the first 2 terms he got in trouble a bit for behavior but got lots of merit awards. When his behavior improved significantly in the second half of the year he didn't  get a single merit. So to me it's clear they are not merit awards but encouragement awards. However, a 5 year old who worked really really hard to improve his behavior couldn't understand not receiving an award even once. I think at least at our school they need to address the balance between using them for encouragement and for true achievement (in any area not just academic). Or perhaps even call them encouragement awards and merit awards so the kids really know wat they are for.

That said, I don't envy the teachers with every parent thinking their child deserves a merit every week.  wink.gif

Edited by BronR, 19 March 2012 - 09:24 AM.


#45 Mummalovin

Posted 19 March 2012 - 04:17 AM

Our school has a card system for both good and bad behaviour.  Yellow, Orange and red cards for differing levels of negative behaviour bringing with them varying degrees of punishment (No playtime etc)

The other cards are Blue cards and they are given to students for posiitve reasons.  These cards are saved and 10 are traded for a White card which is presented by the principal at assembly.  Once they have 10 White cards you trade them in for a Gold card and lunch with the Principal, which is the childs choice within reason original.gif



#46 serenitylisten

Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:50 AM

The awards our school gives are not so much for the best at things, but usually for those who try. The ones who are consistently doing their best are the ones who get the medalions at the EOY assembly.

The one I hated sitting through until they started just giving the teacher the awards to give to the kids whilst sitting down, was the attendance one. The school used to have a high absentee rate. Until they started issuing certificates at the EOY assembly to kids who had only had 1 or None days off school during the year. The 1st year there was only about a class full that got them. Now there is at least half if not more of the school. So they worked.

#47 qak

Posted 23 March 2012 - 02:34 PM

Rosie the Cow has come home today! Apparently she likes to watch movies  biggrin.gif

#48 mumto3princesses

Posted 02 April 2012 - 06:34 AM

I said before that I hate the merit awards. But I was talking about the Primary School.

The High School however seem really good. (So far anyway) At least they get them for real reasons and they do seem to notice the kids who try hard and just do their work which are the ones that seem to get ignored at Primary. Primary seem to give them out all the time to the kids that behave badly the minute they behave themselves or the really smart kids will get them. While with the High School it's all about their work or how hard they try. It does help them to know their efforts are recognised by their teacher.

eta: And they don't waste time at assembly's giving them out. They get them at their next class with that teacher. And they don't hand them out all the time.

Edited by mumto3princesses, 02 April 2012 - 06:42 AM.


#49 BadCat

Posted 02 April 2012 - 08:04 AM

Our high school system is funny.  You get merit tags which you can save up to buy certificates, bronze, silver, gold.... or you can use your tags to buy chocloate.  Oddly enough DD didn't get any merit awards in assembly last year (I'm sure she ate plenty of chocolate though  laughing2.gif) but still managed several major awards at the end of the year.

I asked her about the bronze and silver awards and she said "Why bother? Even the most annoying and disruptive kids get those, they mean precisely nothing".  Speaks volumes to me.

DS is still in primary.  He doesn't even bother to tell me when he gets a merit award anymore.  He thinks they are a joke.




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