Putting Education Reform To The Test

Buying Supplies Equals Better Grades At Cash-Strapped Florida School

Sarah Gonzalez

Sarah Gonzalez / StateImpact Florida

A marine science class at South Broward High. Kevius Morgan, center, and Taylor Drake, right.

With budgets for classroom supplies shrinking, some teachers in a South Florida school are promising students an irresistible incentive if they help stock the classroom: better grades.

“The teacher was like, ‘Okay, I’m running out of paper towels and I don’t know how you’re going to dry your hands after you clean them,” said South Broward High School senior Kevius Morgan.

“So if you bring in paper towels you get a letter grade up.”

Morgan ultimately got an A in art class for bringing them in.

At the same school, an Algebra II student said her teacher gave the class a list of supplies like rulers, markers and scrap paper to bring in. “She was like, ‘a letter grade up if you bring in whatever is on that list,” senior Taylor Drake said. She said her final grade went from a C to a B.

The principal of the school, Alan Strauss, said he didn’t know the grades-for-supplies swap was going on. But he said it doesn’t surprise him “because of the difficult budgetary times.”

Strauss said he’s concerned this sort of swap could give wealthier students an unfair advantage in the classroom. “So I’m not a big fan of that,” he said. He said teachers wouldn’t be going to students for school supplies five years ago.

What does the district think? According to the Broward County Public School District, the practice is impermissible but spokeswoman Marcy Smith said she wasn’t aware of an official extra credit policy.

Read and hear the larger story about Broward schools and how they’re dealing with budget cuts.


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