Original Date: 01/22/2001
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Academic Incentive Programs
The Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia Region implemented three premier education incentive programs which effectively motivate, recognize, and encourage students to achieve higher levels of academic excellence. Each program takes advantage of the cooperative spirit that already exists in the region by establishing partnerships among businesses, academic institutions, students, and parents.
The three premier education incentive programs of the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia Region consist of: (1) the Teachers, Industries, Parents, and Students (TIPS) Program; (2) the Grades of Academic Leaders (GOAL) Card Program; and (3) the Appalachian Inter-Mountain (AIM) Scholars Program. By establishing partnerships within the community, these Programs motivate, encourage, and recognize K-12 students to achieve higher levels of academic excellence.
In the past, the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia Region used traditional educational programs where business representatives visited local schools and shared their experiences with students. Although somewhat effective, the practice did not adequately equip the teacher to motivate and encourage the students in the day-to-day learning process. To address this need, the TIPS Program was established in 1994 by the Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Johnson City and the Washington County schools.
Through the TIPS Program, local educators are placed in over 40 businesses where they acquire information on educational and work skill requirements needed in today’s workforce. Each August prior to the start of the new school year, teachers spend half a day gaining hands-on experience in various aspects of the workplace. Through this Program, they are exposed to real-life situations that require mathematics, reading, problem solving, public speaking, responsibility, and communication skills. Teachers can then incorporate these experiences into their teaching/learning processes throughout the year to show students that what is learned in the classroom can be applied in the workplace.
Initially, the TIPS Program was optional and included 200 educators annually. Over the years, businesses have seen a better educated and prepared workforce and have, therefore, made more openings available as well as advocated the Program as a mandatory requirement for all teachers. More than 1,000 educators now complete the Program annually. The TIPS Program is recognized by teachers as an extremely valuable tool for motivating and encouraging student achievement in the classroom.
GOAL Card Program:
The GOAL Card Program was established in 1988 by Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS), Inc. as a way to show its commitment to public education. Encompassing five school districts in the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia Region, the Program integrates student achievement with recognition and rewards from school administrators, the local business community, and peers. The focus is to promote academic excellence by rewarding K-12 students who achieve certain goals during a grading period. Students who achieve straight A’s are awarded a Goal Card, and those who attain either a B honor roll, most academic improvement in a class, or perfect attendance receive an Achiever Card. The Goal Card (laminated photo- ID) and the Achiever Card (non-laminated ID) allow students to receive free or discounted merchandise or services from participating area merchants. Each card is valid for a specific grading period. In addition, students who achieve straight A’s for the entire school year become eligible for special prizes and scholarships, and are treated to the annual Goal Card Day hosted by NFS and other sponsors.
As the main sponsor, NFS provides all necessary materials (e.g., cards, photo laminator); works with school administrators and teachers; lines up merchants to participate; and solicits local television and radio stations to promote the Program. Since 1988, the number of students in the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia Region who have attained straight A’s has increased by 10%; attendance has grown from 92% to 97%; and more than $30,000 in college scholarships has been provided by local banks and educational institutions. NFS has also provided leadership by setting up the GOAL Card Program in 43 states, and sharing it at state and national conferences. The Program has also been recognized by the Kraft Food Corporation as an effective business/education partnership.
AIM Scholars Program:
The AIM Scholars Program was established in 1994 to address area businesses’ concerns that new hires lacked basic mathematic and reading skills required for employment. The Program is oriented toward all high school students, but particularly encourages C and D students to get involved. The process starts in eighth grade, where business representatives walk students through a budget on how they would support themselves as adults, what type of lifestyle they would want, and how they would support their needs. In addition, the process correlates the value of science and mathematics with better jobs and pay. Throughout high school, educators continue the reinforcement through guidance, pep talks, and recognition.
Students become AIM Scholars by choosing to complete a pre-determined core curriculum (e.g., mathematics, science, social studies, language arts, computer literacy) which includes maintaining at least a C in specific mathematic and science courses; maintaining at least a 95% attendance record over the four- year period; performing 20 hours per year of community service; and avoiding out-of-school suspension. Graduates of the Program gain a fundamentally sound academic education; earn recognition for their good grades, attendance, and behavior; and receive preferential treatment in the area job market. The demand for high-skilled, dependable employees is greater than ever.
The AIM Scholars Program has been effective at encouraging students to work harder. The number of graduates has increased from 194 in 1994 to 594 in 2000, which accounts for 33% of all students in the area where the Program is offered. In addition, the AIM Scholars Program is an excellent vehicle for business, community, and education representatives to work together and advocate a significant impact on the region’s education. The Program has received recognition by the Governor of Tennessee, and is a 1999 recipient of the Best Practice Award from Tennessee Education Edge.
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