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Point System Encourages Good Behavior In Some Duval Schools

Lindsey Kilbride

On Monday morning at Jacksonville’s Wolfson High School. In between classes, senior Takaiya Fuller  was checking how many Hero points she’s accumulated.They were printed on a big spreadsheet taped to a wall in the hallway.

She has 43 points, but she said she was hoping for a number more like 103.

Duval County students now have more reasons to behave better at school, thanks to a new system that allows them to trade points for rewards.

Wolfson is one of the 54 high, middle and elementary schools in Duval County using what’s called the “Hero system.” When a student does something good, like get to class first, or participate more, a teacher can scan their ID with a smart phone and award them points.

Superintendent Vitti says parents can check their child’s behavior status in real-time.

“You're seeing students make the right decision more often and more frequently because they’re incentivized to do that,” Vittis said. “We want to create cultures and environments where students are making the right decision and being recognized for doing this in a positive way.”

Students can trade in Hero points for prizes that range from prom tickets, to admission to the school’s VIP lounge.

That’s where Taylor Staton spent his lunch period. After a game of Ping-Pong, he had the choice to grab a slushie, there are two choices, cherry or blue-raspberry, or fresh popcorn from a popcorn machine.

Staton traded in 25 points to hang out in the lounge every day for a month.

“Wear my ID in the hallways, have a nice, clean binder, coming prepared to class,” Staton said those are some of the things he did for points. “It takes a lot but it’s worth it.”

Math teacher Ashley Ralson says she had doubts when she heard about the program.

She said she thought, “Yeah right, like we’re going to get them to buy into this.”

But she says kids have been participating more, and getting better grades.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised that even the toughest ones have bought into it,” Ralson said. “And when you’re putting Hero points on the line, they are into it, they are on it.”

Wolfson principal Terry Connor says fewer students are getting into fights and fewer have been arrested compared with last school year. He said out of the 1,120 students at Wolfson, nine students haven’t received any of the 31,581 points awarded this year.