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Les Potter received his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Les has over 45 years in school administration and educational leadership including: Assistant to the Superintendent (...
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Academic Booster Club

For many years there have been debates in K-12 education in the US concerning incentives or rewarding students for grades, attendance, behavior, test scores, etc. I remember at one time that educators frowned on the idea of rewarding students, especially older pupils for showing improvement. The belief was that students should want to improve their grades, attendance etc. for its own self reward. That students would be more interested in the "prizes" than the actual improvement that they showed in the classroom. This concept would be extrinsic rewards rather than intrinsic rewards to motivate students.

I have seen in the last 40+ years many different types of rewards or incentives given to students to show them they appreciate their efforts in the classroom. I believe that it is not the prize or reward but the recognition that the student receives. We all want to be recognized and appreciated for a job well done.
From personal experience, I have seen extrinsic rewards work very well to motivate students to improve their performance in the classroom, their behavior and school attendance.
One example of this I used many years ago in a small town (Title One school) junior high school in a southern state was a program called the Academic Booster Club. Many schools have booster clubs to raise money to recognize athletic and music programs. But the school district where I worked never had such a program to recognize academic improvement. I discussed the idea with school and district educators, parents, students, and community members. I did not want to take anything away from our active PTO group but to enhance four areas that I thought needed improvement at our school: test scores, grades, attendance and student behavior.
We got a number of parents, community members and educators behind the establishment of an Academic Booster Club (ABC). We organized the Club as you would any other booster club or PTO. We invited interested adults to attend our twice monthly evening meeting, we elected officers, established by-laws, had a mission statement, etc.  We were on our way. We had a very dedicated group of parents who bought into the idea of recognizing academics.This I felt was key as they got the community very involved from business to civic organizations. Most wanted to be part of this positive program. 
In talking with the students we got ideas of what they would like to receive as recognition. This included: quarterly recognition assemblies, credit cards that would include lunch with your parents, go to the head of the line at lunch, off campus gifts from various businesses, food, school clothing, even a special lunch room set up only for our straight A students,  etc. 
We did this at a very low cost and as most of the items and incentives were donated from local businesses and fundraisers. The ABC program was so well received at school and the community that we were honored at a school board meeting and we were recognized by the state education department.
We did see a tremendous improvement in all four of our target areas. School daily attendance increased to over 96%, student behavior improved by 50%, statewide test scores improved, and grades improved as we had more straight A and A and B students each quarter than the other junior highs in the district.
I believe that self motivation is a great way for students to improve, but I think that extrinsic motivation might be the jump start that many students might need.
Good luck!
Les Potter, Ed.D.