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Controversy over school reward program

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Rewarding students in school isn't new. However, the way some schools are going about doing it have concerned some parents and grandparents.

In Pitt County, students are sometimes allowed to dress out of uniform on certain days for things like good behavior and good grades.

At Farmville Middle School, students are allowed to wear different pants for a day if they had an A, B, or C. But some feel as if this singles out other students, potentially leading to bullying.

"Already some of them feel that they're not doing as well as others and that people point fingers at them and call them dummies and that kind of thing," said Carol Smith, who has several grandchildren in Pitt County schools.

But school officials say students have many opportunities outside earning good grades to qualify for this type of reward. They say these rewards encourage students to behave better and earn better grades.

"Allowing them to dress out of uniform, or in this particular case, wear a different type of pants for the day, is certainly quite an incentive for them and something that I think would make them want to work toward a certain goal," said Brock Letchworth, the Public Information Officer for Pitt County Schools.

While Smith says she knows the schools mean well, she thinks they could reward students in an alternative way.

"Reward those students who have shown improvement from the last marking period, whether it be an A, B, C, D or F," Smith said.

Letchworth says that many students who can dress out of uniform on certain days don't. He also states school officials are trained to help prevent bullying from taking place.

As for rewards, Letchworth says schools will continue to reward students who achieve in and out of the classroom.

"For kids, most of the time it needs to be some type of extrinsic reward, and that's what we found particularly at the middle school level, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon," Letchworth said.
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