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[Susan notes: It is nice to see someone speaking out for intrinsinc motivation.]

Published in St. Petersburg Times

To the editor

Re: The FCAT Machine

Meadowlawn Middle School's students' recent success on the FCAT should be lauded, but the factors to which the principal and others attribute the improvement (stickers, dances, a flip-flop schedule, and the promise of a buzz-cut) belittle both the students' achievements and the teachers' efforts.

In none of the recent articles is there a single mention of an actual academic strategy that was employed to improve student achievement. Were there any or was the increased success born entirely of extrinsic encouragements? The success is likely to be short-lived unless intrinsic motivation is instilled in the student population.

Students should not be asked to perform well on a high stakes test because someone is willing to get a short hair cut. Students should be encouraged to learn because education allows them to gain greater control of themselves and their places in the world.

Art Gray

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