Last year, two schools in the Anaheim Union High School District tried a new academic incentive program. Students were given identification cards in colors that revealed how well they performed on standardized tests. Those with the “best” colors were given freebies and perks, like getting to stand at the front of the line in the cafeteria. Those with the other colors? Well, better luck next time! (And you might wanna bring a sack lunch.)
While school officials hailed the program as a motivating tool, many parents and educators were outraged by the practice, calling the cards for low-scorers a modern-day dunce cap or scarlet letter. Soon, lawmakers got involved.
Just last week, the state Senate voted 34-2 to pass AB 1166, a bill by Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) that prohibits school districts from including information about test scores or grades on an ID card or “any object a pupil may be required to carry while at school.” Democratic state Sen. Lou Correa told the the Huffington Post that the color-coding system can be “embarrassing and demoralizing.”
Kennedy and Cypress high schools launched the program last October, but killed it shortly after the Orange County Register broke a story about it. Some were disappointed that the incentive system got axed, saying that it's another example of political correctness dumbing down the hard work of students.
The bill, backed by the California Teachers Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, was previously approved by the Assembly but must be re-approved due to changes.