Fountain Woods Elementary looking to recognize individual goals without honor roll lists
By: STEPHEN FINN
Fountain Woods Elementary School is starting the school year off with some big changes. This year, the school is proposing discontinuing the practice of generating high honor and honor roll lists at the lower grade levels.
The Fountain Woods administration recently requested the board of education review the current practice of recognizing honor roll and high honor roll at the elementary level.
Before making a decision on the matter, the board committee met with Principal John Johnson and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Ann Britt and received written statements from staff members, including guidance counselors and teachers who regularly engage with the children.
A letter signed by Johnson and Vice Principal Jason Strouse was sent home to parents of Fountain Woods students announcing the changes and the rationale behind why they felt they were necessary.
Until the Burlington Township Board of Education meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 10, where the board will hold a discussion with parents on the matter, they are withholding further comment.
In the letter, the school administration expresses its wish to address that the honor roll lists are solely reflective of a child’s grades and not of the amount of effort a student puts into their work.
The letter addresses parents of Fountain Woods students who have reached out to the school about the negative effect an honor roll program can have on students who put in great effort but still fall short of the grades required for honor roll acknowledgement.
According to the letter, “many children and parents have enjoyed receiving these and celebrating the accomplishments, many others have reached out to share the impact of not making these lists.”
These changes are also meant to combat rising levels of anxiety and stress children experience today. The administration cites social media and rising levels of adult content on television, music and movies. The school wants to adjust to the fact that children today are forced to grow up faster than in the past.
“Childhood anxiety is very real and a prominent issue in our society today. Anxiety for some students begins at this age level. This change serves as part of our ongoing emphasis on supporting children’s overall emotional and mental health,” the letter stated.
According to the school, increasing levels of competitiveness in sports and academics have also contributed to childhood anxiety. They believe these feelings can stem from early experiences at school and stay with the child throughout their educational careers.
The administration stresses the importance of children succeeding at individual goals based on their abilities rather than one ultimate goal that everyone is held to.
“We tell children all the time, if you truly give your best effort, we will be proud of you. For some children, that goal might be a 100 percent. For others — and especially in a subject in which they do not necessarily excel — it may be a 75 percent. We should celebrate children based on individual goals and growth, not a one-size-fits-all standard,” the administration said in the letter.
The school considers the changes part of an ongoing effort to develop not only a child’s academic abilities but their emotional health as well.
According to the letter, “We are committed to taking care of the whole child, and we feel this is a step that helps us do that.”