Dunk the principal? Students are gleeful

The Baltimore Sun

Swansfield Elementary School Principal Jonathan Davis has a date with a dunking booth Tuesday afternoon.

Davis, several teachers and an assistant principal, have agreed to be dunked by students who earned the right during the Maryland State Assessments, which were taken in March.

During the testing period, Swansfield teachers had the opportunity to award up to five balls per student. The balls acted as incentive for students to take the test seriously.

"The students are extremely excited to have the opportunity to drench their teachers and the principal," said a school spokeswoman Pennie Close.

Davis said the students are looking forward to getting him soaked in his work attire.

"I'm a little nervous. ... A lot of the kids want me to be dressed in a white shirt and a tie," Davis said. "I'm sure I'm going to start off like that, but I'm sure I will change into a Swansfield T-shirt."

Every student who took the MSAs was awarded at least one ball, Davis said.

"I felt like every student could participate," Davis said. "It made it even more personal. We could reward everyone. That was important to us."

This year, many schools have used similar incentives to focus students on assessment tests.

At Elkridge Landing Middle, the school held a pep rally and had daily raffles during test days to encourage attendance.

The principals at Cradlerock School (Jason McCoy) and Stevens Forest (Ron Morris) made a bet that the principal at the school with the lower MSA scores will have to perform an embarrassing task such as taking a sip of soup made of smelly socks, riding around the parking lot on a scooter dressed in a tutu, or hand-washing the other's car.

"If the scores are released prior to the end of the school year, we're going to follow through with our challenge," Morris said.

He added that should the scores be released during the summer, they will "carry out the challenge in September."

Scott Conroy, principal at Wilde Lake Middle School, had his head shaved after 95 percent of the 501 students showed up for the four days of MSA testing.

When Davis and Sean Martin, principal at Bryant Woods Elementary, heard about Conroy's hair-shaving challenge, they wanted to do something similar. But they drew the line at the clippers.

"I really didn't want to shave my head," Davis said with a laugh.

Martin also planned a similar dunking booth at Bryant Woods on Friday.

The MSA is used in part to determine "adequate yearly progress," the yardstick under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

AYP is used to determine whether children can transfer to higher-performing schools. It also can affect federal funding to schools.


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