What’s Right With Our Schools: Bleckley County H.S. uses purple card incentives to keep students motivated

COCHRAN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Bleckley County High School administrators and staff are communicating effectively with the students and their parents to ensure success in the classroom.

"I’m constantly talking with students everyday, asking them how I can make their grades better," explains Math Inclusion teacher, William Basby.

“We talk about their attitude, we talk about literally how to pass the class," adds Assistant Principal Matt Gibbs.

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Assistant Principal, Lara Rowland, says they focus more on incoming Freshman because this is new for them and they’re not accustomed to the freedom that high school offers.

"We actually communicate with the middle school teachers, the eighth grade teachers, we ask them questions about the students and we use data from the students’ test scores as well as information about their grades from specific classes," continues Rowland.

Once the information is gathered, assistant principals create an at risk list, which includes names of students who may need more help in certain areas. They constantly monitor students’ progress until they see change.

"If we don’t communicate with students, they don’t know that we care and I think if they know that we care, that makes all the difference in the world for them," says Department Chair for Social Studies, Debbie Caldwell.

Students are brought in individually to talk with them to see what needs to be done so that they can pass their classes. After improvements are made, students who score an 85 or better on the end of course test, will receive a purple card.

The purple cards are used for any school activities that charge an admission, and by using the purple card, they’re able to get in for free. Many students say it’s like having a credit card with the school.

"I like having my purple card because I can go to the after school events. I don’t have to worry about keeping cash on me or anything like that," adds Sydney Sandoval, who is a junior at Bleckley High School.

For some, getting the privileges isn’t easy. It makes them do whatever it takes to get the purple card.

"Seeing these students with these purple cards is really motivating me to aim higher," says 10th grader Henley Dean.

Administrators have seen a decrease in discipline problems since they started the purple card program ten years ago.