Dana Hall eliminates Honor Roll

This year, Dana Hall eliminated the Honor Roll in an effort to increase intrinsic motivation within students, and at the same time decrease stress. Dana Hall transcripts will no longer bear any indication of the Honor Roll.

The concept of an external reward is to recognize achievement through an external prize, in the same way a child might be presented with candy for good behavior. In recent years, educators have begun to shift away from external rewards, as studies have illustrated that they immobilize a student’s personal desire to learn and replace it with an unhealthy obsession to earn good marks.

Some students view getting rid of the Honor Roll as a positive step towards making Dana Hall a school that shifts emphasis off of grades and onto fostering a love of learning in its students. Tori Alvarez ’16 says, “even if the Honor Roll could be considered a motivator, it could also distract from work … and while it’s nice to be recognized for your work, the Dana Hall Honor Roll doesn’t matter outside of Dana Hall.”

Not all students are happy that the Honor Roll has been erased from transcripts. Stella Wang ’18 comments, “The Honor Roll is a good way to push people to study.… Most of my friends are missing the Honor Roll because they feel like it could push them. I don’t think it’s fair that students will lose that recognition because they worked hard for it, and nothing can deny their work.”

While some students may have concerns over the Honor Roll’s disappearance from academic resumés, when Dana Hall began conversations over its elimination, it polled, through College Counseling, a considerable number of colleges, from “the Harvards of the world” to “public universities and everything in between,” according to Ms. Jessica Keimowitz, Head of the Upper School. Ms. Keimowitz notes that the gist of the schools’ responses was uniformly “we don’t care about Honor Roll. It has no bearing on admission…. It just doesn’t matter.”

In 2011, Dana Hall partnered with the Laurel School to study the relationship between girls and stress. The two schools conducted a three-year longitudinal study, titled the 21st Century Athenas Project, in conjunction with researchers at Boston College and Boston University. The study assessed qualitative and quantitative data; it reviewed surveys and analyzed interviews given to students, parents and faculties members periodically over a succession of years. The study unearthed what earlier research had already outlined. Ms. Keimowitz said, “what the findings revealed…is that external factors don’t have intrinsic meaning, so external motivation can be a real stressor.”

Instead of maximizing anxiety in girls by outwardly encouraging them to attain certain grades, Dana Hall hopes to allow students to discover an inborn passion for learning, and to encourage girls to dedicate themselves to school for the sole sake of attaining knowledge. English teacher Dr. Julia Bucci echoes this goal, saying, “We are doing so many wonderful and exciting things to inspire and work with the joy of learning that our students have that any kind of focus on grades, including Honor Roll, is counterproductive.”

Comments are closed.