An educational psychologist who specializes in student motivation is calling an Orange County high school's system of grouping students by test score "one of the worst ideas ever" to promote learning, while the principal of a neighboring high school with a nearly identical program is defending the practice as extremely effective.
AnneMarie Conley, a UC Irvine assistant professor who studies motivational strategies in Orange County schools, said she was "shocked and horrified" to learn that La Palma's Kennedy High School requires students to carry school IDs in one of three colors based on their performance on the California Standards Tests, plus a spiral-bound homework planner covered in a matching color.
"It goes against everything we know about student motivation and what helps students learn in productive ways," Conley said. "If you want a short-term, Band-Aid approach, then you can reward kids with stickers and pizza parties. But if you want to support lifelong learning, there's absolutely no research to support what they're doing..."