George Lucas Educational Foundation

How the Media plays a part in how students feel about being successful

How the Media plays a part in how students feel about being successful

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There is this news station in our community that does an "ALL STAR" student section each week, I believe. It highlights a student from a school around the valley who has a grade point average of 3.?-4.0. I only say 3.? because I have never heard of one lower than 3.0. The students are also involved in sports and may also be a member of a club or leader of a club (secretary, president, etc.) as they hold this high grade point average. This bothers me so much. I think of how the media portrays the "successful" students or the "ALL STAR" students as only being those who ARE involved in a sport and have a high grade point average. What about those students who grew from a 1.0 to a 2.5 or those students who are involved in Drama or some other extracurricular activity other than sports with a grade point average lower than a 3.5? What about the student who goes to school, holds a job, takes care of their siblings, and although they may not have that high grade point average, does not give up and remains in school and strives to do their best? I personally think of those students who have made growth and have not given up on themselves as the "ALL STAR" students and would like to see them highlighted in the media. It would let our children and youth know that they are also stars for the things they have achieved. How do you feel? Esperanza Paul

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Amy B's picture

I completely agree with you. In my community, we don't have the media recognition of students that your community has. But when someone does get recognized, it is for high academic performance like you stated. The only way a student gets recognized here is if they get a 4.0 in school and achieve a really high score on the SAT. Or they recognize the star players on a sports team. I think there is far too much emphasis placed on sports achievements, because the reality is that sports will not bring future success to the majority of those players.

When you stated that the "all stars" for you are the students who grew from 1.0 to 2.5 or those who never gave up, I thought of my school immediately. I teach in a district that is very diverse. The further north you are in the county, the higher the standardized test scores are. Those schools are always getting recognized for their achievements, and our school is always at the bottom of the list. However, no one has taken the time to see what we have actually achieved. Many of our students show over a year of growth in both reading and math by the end of the year. They may still not be on grade level by the time they leave for the next grade, however, they have made tremendous progress. These types of things never get recognized. All people see are standardized test scores. It is very unfortunate, and it is devistating to the students' confidence levels when they have worked so hard and still fail the testing at the end of the year. This is why I try hard to have my own recognition for my students and let them know how proud I am of them and how proud they should be of themselves.

Elizabeth Brice's picture
Elizabeth Brice
5th grade teacher

I am glad students receive recognitation for academics and sports. I agree with you that more stress should be given for the areas such as drama, art, or students with jobs. At our school, we try to recognize students in many area, not just academics. Such as our Accelerated Reading program, the student's goals are based on their reading levels so each student has the opportunity to be successful and be recognized. Each student needs the recognitation of something and we try to acknowledge this during the 9 week Awards Assembly. Parents are invited and students enjoy getting certificates for their acomplishments. Those students that maintain high GPA's and play sports should receive recognation. My children played sports in middle school, high school and my son in college. Both maintained high GPA's and this was a lot of work in both areas. But they also realized that sports would not provide a living for them and I think this is where the Media is misleading to young people. When you ask my students what they want to be when they grow up most of my 5th grade boys want to play basketball or football. I don't think a realistic picture has been shown.

Rachel's picture

I agree that all aspects of student growth and achievement should be recognized. That is academics, athletics, and other extra-curricular activities like drama and music. Our middle school does not have an honor roll because they feel it makes those who do not achieve honor roll "feel bad." I do not teach middle school, so maybe they do have a point, but by the time a student is 7-8th grade, honor roll ought to be okay. Maybe they could make the criteria a little less stringent than the high school. More kids would make it then.

My school, a high school which has three levels of honor roll, also recognizes students who have raised their grades two letter grades or higher at the end of each quarter. So if a student earned a C first quarter and an A second quarter, his name is read over the PA and he receives a coupon for an ice cream in the cafeteria. He may also receive a movie pass, but I think that depends on the amount of fund raising the committee, a parent-led committee assisted by a teacher or two, has done over the year. The list of these kids is generated right from the grading program.

We also have a "Voices Seldom Heard"-type section in the school mailings once a month. An article in this monthly newsletter will highlight the successful activities of our students in non-traditional or non-school supported arenas. For example, we don't have a swim team, but some kids swim on a private team, etc.

I do think it is wrong to highlight ONLY the highest achieving students or athletes, but to ignore their achievements would also be wrong. Some kids shine only on the playing fields and some kids find solace in good grades, solace they don't find at home. How to balance it all remains the question.

Esperanza Paul's picture

Elizabeth, I hope I didn't offend you. I didn't mean at all that students who play sports and get high GPA's shouldn't be recognized. I completely agree that they have to work hard to maintain a high GPA and play sports. I commend them for that. I was just thinking of how the media here in my community portrays what an "ALL STAR" student is and I think of all the students I know and that I have worked with who would be very deserving of being recognized also. I agree with you that this is where the media is misleading to our youth.

Esperanza Paul

Esperanza Paul's picture

Our school also recognizes students who grow in their reading. We also recognize those who do the after school program InterMurals, which does sports. We have a showcase where there pictures go and how they did. We recognize students who receive "Caught Being Good" certificates by placing them on a wall in the hallway for everyone to see. We do once a month assemblies for students of the month and recognize students then also. Teachers throughout the building have ways of recognizing achievement in their classrooms.

Our district has been low for many years in the state standards. Compared to the West side we are very low. Our Principal tells us that when he goes to the conferences and the state recognizes the schools on the West side he thinks of the growths that our students have made and why it doesn't show that. I believe there are many schools out there who don't get recognized for growths made and I guess that is where we, as teachers, need to make sure that our students do get recognized.


Esperanza Paul's picture

I do agree that the students who play sports and hold high GPA's should be recognized. I am not against that at all. I just think there are so many students out there who don't get recognized and that is what bothers me. I am happy to hear that in your school Rachel you recognize those who have grown. I really believe it will make a difference in their lives and give them more confidence. It sounds like there are schools out there that are recognizing students for different achievements. That is great to hear. Maybe I just need to call and ask the media in this area if they would consider recognizing someone who achieved in other areas. That would be me taking a risk as an educator. How to balance it all does remain the question.

Esperanza Paul

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