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How I Increased My High School Son’s Academic Progress

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Richard O. Jones
Seven years ago, my high school son was a ‘D' to ‘C' average student. This was quite disappointing to me because Darren was an ‘A' to ‘B' average student throughout elementary and middle school. He had received several scholastic awards and had won an oratory contest while in middle school. I knew that he was not living up to his potential. The fact was that Darren acquired friendships with a pack of guys that preferred to be ‘cool' rather than productive.

According to the recent SAT statistics, African American students continue to lag behind the national average in ‘Reading, Writing, Science, and Mathematics. While the politicians, teachers, and community leaders are busy looking for someone the blame, parents should develop their own academic improvement strategy.

My son received a $20 weekly allowance regardless of his academic performance. He looked forward to the money each week as if he had worked for it. One day I asked him if he would like a raise from $20 per week to $35 per week. Of course he said yes. I then told him that I was no longer giving him money regardless of his school progress. He would have to earn his weekly payment. Since he had seven classes, I would pay him $5 for each ‘A' he received according to a weekly progress record. That meant that if he received seven A's that would amount to $35. However, he would receive $3 for each ‘B', which meant if he receive seven B's that would amount to $21 per week. For each ‘C' he would only receive $1, which meant all C's would amount to $7 per week. For grades of D's he would receive a $3 deduction, and a $7 deduction for each ‘F'.  If he had a deficit one week, it would rollover to the next, which meant he would begin the next week in the red.

To the left is one of Darren's weekly progress reports after two months on this new pay schedule. Although he never earned $35 in one week, his pay was always above $21, most weeks it was approximately $25 plus.

 Every parent that gives their child money should stop and require them to earn it according to their grades. Parents must be prepared to increase the amount they normally give as an incentive. For example, I normally gave $20 per week but with the program I was prepared to pay up to $35.

My son is now a senior in college and expects to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and continue to pursue a Master's. As for his high school friends, unfortunately, most of them dropped out of school.

Email: richardojones1@verizon.net

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