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Incentives begin for going to school

The Lafayette School District is anticipating higher attendance rates for 2016 due to a new program designed to encourage good classroom habits as well as attendance.

Learning Earnings is a point-based system that lets students earn credits through various means and apply them for prizes or privileges throughout the semester. The program is a new approach a handful Mississippi school districts are trying out.

Lafayette School District Superintendent Adam Pugh said, “If we can be at 96 percent attendance rate, that would be huge for us.”

Since the program has been in place, each day’s attendance report has been averaging around 96 percent so far this fall. Pugh said the overall attendance rate last year was a little above 95 percent. The district has roughly 2,700 students in all. Each percent of attendance gained represents about 27 more students that are present for class, so every percent counts.

Pugh said he has received plenty of positive feedback from parents about their children being excited. The children are ready to attend class when they know every little bit of effort on their part is reimbursed in small ways through Learning Earnings.

Student incentive

The points in Learning Earnings are basically like dollars to students. The school district offers rewards for students that can be viewed online through their personal Learning Earnings account where they manage their points. Students can use points or continue to save up for a larger reward if they wish.

Rewards that have been given to students in the past include homework passes, free entry into an athletic event, sports memorabilia, a free meal from a restaurant located on the Square and even movie tickets.

“A big thing with elementary kids is crazy sock day,” Pugh said. “They can take their shoes off and have crazy sock day. So not necessarily everything has a cash value.”

The items the students use their points on are donated to the district. The University of Mississippi’s donations have included larger donations that students can bid on. Ole Miss donated two footballs signed by coach Hugh Freeze, two basketballs signed by coach Andy Kennedy and two baseball bats signed by coach Mike Bianco. These larger donations will be awarded toward the end of the semester in December.

Pugh said the additional donations given to the program are from a network of school district employees as well as community members and businesses that want to help the program succeed.

During Lafayette Middle School Principal Chad Chism’s first semester in the district, he can already see the benefits of the program because it encourages good behavior and attendance.

“It’s a win-win on all sides,” Chism said.