P.A.S.S. is a go for students

October 03, 1997


Staff Writer

Dustin Warner said his grades were "70 and below" at Smithsburg Middle School last year, but all that changed when the chance of going to the movies or skating was dangled in front of him as an incentive for doing better.

Warner started hitting the books for a few extra hours on Saturdays, and although he didn't make enough improvement to go to a party, he rose one letter grade in almost every class.

"It made me feel pretty good," Warner said.

Teachers at the school, searching for ways to help students improve the quality of their work, came up with the idea of rewarding their efforts with more than better grades.


More than 500 students went on outings to places like a roller rink or the movies.

After Project P.A.S.S. began, the number of honor roll students at the school rose by 21 percent, an increase officials believe can be largely attributed to the effort.

"We just hate to see students fail," said Principal Jeffrey Stouffer.

Stouffer said some people have told him that they do not believe school officials should have to reward students for doing well. But Stouffer said he believes a school should do anything it can to encourage students to work for better grades.

Teachers at the school are asked to identify students in their classes who they believe could benefit from Project P.A.S.S., said Assistant Principal Paul Engle. A letter is then sent home to parents encouraging them to send their children to the school on Saturdays for a few hours of extra help.

Although the decision is up to the students and parents, about 95 percent of the students who are selected attend the sessions, said Engle.

One area in which teachers wanted to see improvement was that of homework assignments. School officials promised students that if they completed 80 percent of their assignments and turned them in on time 80 percent of the time, they would get the rewards, teachers said.

The effort was not limited to students who needed help.

Other students who already were completing their assignments were encouraged to participate to insure that they kept excelling, teachers said.

"It was something to look forward to, I guess. A lot of people would talk about it and like it," said Katy Powell, a seventh-grade student who went to skating and pizza parties and a movie last year. Powell was one of the students who was completing her assignments.

The program was developed by teachers last year after they did some research into how other schools across the country find ways to motivate students, Engle said.

The Herald-Mail Articles