Rewarding students for positive behavior leads to major improvement of accountability metrics

Alabama State Department of Education implements proactive and preventative positive behavior reinforcement program to improve grades, attendance and discipline
By: | Issue: January, 2016 | Case Study
November 23, 2015

Chronic discipline problems, truancy and a negative school culture can all lead to poor student outcomes. In most schools, a minority of students disrupt the entire classroom, and teachers spend an average of 45 minutes per incident attempting to resolve an issue.

Wanting to combat those issues and improve academic outcomes in districts across the state, leaders from Alabama’s State Department of Education (ALSDE) created Plan 2020 in 2013. As part of this college-and-career readiness plan, Alabama districts began to take action to promote positive student behavior and to be able to measure the results of improved school culture.

In September 2014 the leadership of eight Alabama districtsÑwith a total enrollment of 30,000 studentsÑdecided to implement Chalkable Learning Earnings, a comprehensive, customizable and measurable positive behavior reinforcement program. This program makes an impact by providing teachers with the tools to reward achievement, attendance and good behavior. Administrators can track impact data and make district-level adaptations. The top goals set forth for the program were to increase attendance, improve academic achievement and reduce disciplinary infractions.

Learning Earnings is the centerpiece of Chalkable’s positive behavior solution. Through this positive reinforcement system, students earn points for exhibiting those behaviors that bolster student success. Educators can clearly communicate goals and expectations for student behavior and achievement. For example, instead of punishing a student for repeated absences, an educator can award students 10 points for each week of perfect attendance. Students can watch their points accumulate online in their Learning Earnings bank and trade them in for thousands of prize templates such as lunch with their teacher, tickets to the pep rally or the opportunity for extra credit.

One Alabama district enabled students to earn points for displays of strong character, such as clearing away trash other students left behind at a lunch table.

Educators are given customized training that enables them to effectively implement the Learning Earnings program and other positive classroom management methods. Before implementing the program,Chalkable coaches review attendance and achievement data with district administrators to define benchmarks and goals.

“Chalkable was able to tailor their training to fit the needs of our school system,” says Bill Hopkins, superintendent of Morgan County Schools in northern Alabama. “We were able to work with them and have a conversation about what was unique to our situation and what could benefit us.”

Among the students participating in the program throughout the eight Alabama school districts, there was an 18 percent reduction in absences year-over-year, discipline infractions decreased by half, and the number of failing grades decreased by 32 percent.

“Because of the data and analytics, we were able to see a positive correlation between the implementation of positive reinforcements and gains to student achievement,” says one ALSDE administrator.

The study also found that the more students used the program, the more they improved. The students who logged in at least seven times during a nine-week grading period to view and manage their Learning Earnings rewards saw greater achievement gains in all three key accountability areas when compared to those who logged in fewer times.

“We are excited to see the continued improvement and student achievement that results from districts implementing schoolwide systems of support, leading to safer, more positive learning environments in which every student thrives,” says Thomas R. Bice, state superintendent of education.

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