School administrators at Judkins Middle School in Pismo Beach are seeing a major shift in student behavior amid a new program that rewards kids for good deeds.
Students earn literal brownie points for good behavior through the school's PRIDE program, which allows teachers to award points to students for good deeds through an app.
"Saying thank you to the lunch lady when she gives you lunch could get you a scan, raising your hand in class when you're supposed to be, that could get you a scan," Judkins Assistant Principal Jeannie Cross said.
The program is one of the reasons the school was awarded a Silver Level Recognition from the California Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Coalition.
Burly Smith, a 7th grade student, has already earned over 35 points.
"Sometimes I get it for doing good deeds like picking up trash around campus," Smith said.
Students are assigned a code that is printed on his or her name badge, which can be scanned by teachers who wish to acknowledge good behavior. Those scans add up and spend like cash at the school's PRIDE Store, which is open to students on Fridays.
"Especially for kids that are struggling and maybe don't get a lot of recognition at home or feel like 'gosh, I'm always in trouble' or whatever, to get that positive reinforcement makes a huge difference," Cross said.
The proof is in the points. In the 2017-2018 school year, administrators recorded 284 disruptions and acts of defiance. That's compared to 116 reports of bad behavior last school year, when the pilot program got underway mid-year.
"It gives kids a reason to be nice and help out," Chris Reed, a 7th grade student, said.
The program provides students extra incentive to be kind and even responsible.
"I was telling my mom, 'I don't want you to buy me a jacket, I want to buy it on my own,'" Smith said. "Like get 300 scans, so that's what I'm kinda working for."
According to Cross, all the items available for "purchase" at the PRIDE Store are donated by parents.
Students like Smith and Reed are earning points not just for short term rewards but an end of year celebration in the PRIDE lounge.
"You get out of lunch a bit early to go get your food, go to the gym where we have music playing," Cross said.
The small rewards have been producing big changes in attitudes, Cross said.
"It's just trying to do good deeds and play a role in everybody's community," Smith said.