Iowa school district has a pizza night problem

Ah, pizza night. There is perhaps no greater reward for an elementary school student than the promise of pizza night with their friends for a job well done. But an Iowa school district is in hot water after a handful of students were kicked out of the party.

If you have a child in school right now, you’ve probably heard of ISASP testing. The Iowa Statewide Student Progress Assessment Tests are administered annually in Iowa schools. They can take several days and are often stressful for students. KCCI reports that the Woodward-Granger School District has a program that rewards students who achieve a certain level on ISASP tests with a pizza night at the local Pizza Ranch restaurant. Students who did not score high enough are required to stay in school and eat with a teacher.

A parent told KCCI that he received an email from the school saying the teacher would announce which students had to go to Pizza Ranch for pizza night and that their daughter was unable to go. This mother said she felt that students who did not participate in the party were unfairly singled out. She told KCCI, “Why can’t you have pizza for the whole class who, you know, finished the test? Why do you have to single out the kids who didn’t score high enough… “

The Woodward-Granger School District told KCCI the pizza night program has been going on for eight years to inspire kids to do their best. The school district said in an email, “No one involved intended to hurt or discriminate. We want all students to feel safe and supported at school.” As a result of complaints, the district will no longer offer incentives like a pizza night tied to a statewide assessment test.

But did it really have to come to this? No pizza night for students? I understand the incentives for students to succeed. But in elementary school, much more damage can be done by making a student feel left out of the classroom. Make pizza night a collective goal. The class must average a certain score to get the party. My kids often came home talking about how their class “deserved” an award. They also talked about the times they missed. But they were never singled out. It looks like parents and teachers in the Woodward-Granger School District should get together and work things out. Maybe over a pizza.

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