Do you work in or attend a school with an ineligibility procedure? This means that if students don’t meet a teacher’s criteria, they will be ineligible for after school activities. This is an issue that I’ve been thinking about for a very long time. It’s somewhat of a “hot button” issue for our school and something on which I have not been able to come to agreement with some of our faculty. I write about it now to clarify my own thinking and to solicit ideas from others.
The criteria for participating in non-credit bearing activities are based on five academic criteria. The student must be prepared for class. He must be working at a successful level, or, if not, at the student’s level of potential. She must have assignments up to date and not on the obligation list. Students must be present and on time for class. They must also exhibit positive class participation and cooperation.
Those students a teacher feels are not meeting the criteria above may not participate in extra-curricular activities during ineligible status until removed by the teacher. The teacher can place the student on probation for a week, remove the student, and extend the probation to ineligibility. Students who play school sports are removed from the sport if they land on ineligibility three times in a given season.
Teachers place the students on the list at their discretion. This year, the procedure has been changed in two ways. One, the student must be ineligible in two or more subjects to be ineligible for extra-curricular activities. Two, students may still attend practices/activities if they are participating in an after school “learning center” where there is a teacher available to help with school-work.
My thinking in making these changes is simple. Previously, the procedure seemed based on a reward and punishment model. “You do this for me or I take that away.” While I understand that philosophy and agree that our students should be taking care of business during the school day, I do not find the strictly punitive model to be motivating to students and effective. The addition of the two changes cited above offers the student support to get off of the ineligibility list through the learning center and allows him or her to continue with the activity, which can be extremely motivating to a student.
The addition of the two subjects or more section is to recognize that a good student may struggle from time to time in one subject. Last year, we had about half of our junior class facing the loss of Prom because of incompletion of a major research project. Do I think they should have taken care of the project? Of course. Do I think there are consequences built into the classroom procedures, within the power of the teacher, that are in place for that failure? Certainly, students receive lower grades, phone calls to parents, and serious implications for some in regard to passing the course. Do I think otherwise good students should lose a major high school event for lack of completion of one project? No, I don’t. And this is where I differ from some of my teachers.
I understand that this change, which makes perfect sense to me, also caused some teachers to feel that they weren’t supported. But how do I support something that I don’t believe in? I do believe in reasonable consequences for our students when they fall down, but I will never be able to support an extremely punitive environment. That’s not how I manage anyone in G-town, teachers and support staff included. So why would I manage students in that way? Readers, am I way off base on this one?