Ah, the pizza party. There is perhaps no reward greater to a student in elementary school than the promise of a pizza party with their friends for a job well done. But one Iowa school district is in hot water after a handful of students were left out of that party.

If you have a child in school right now, you have probably heard of the ISASP tests. The Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress tests are given annually in Iowa schools. They can take multiple days and are oftentimes a stressful occurrence for students. KCCI reports that the Woodward-Granger school district has a program that rewards students that score at a certain level on the ISASP tests with a pizza party at the local Pizza Ranch restaurant. Students who didn't score high enough are forced to stay back at school and eat with a teacher.

One parent told KCCI that they received an email from the school stating that the teacher would be announcing which students got to go to Pizza Ranch for the pizza party, and that their daughter did not get to go. That parent stated that she felt as if the students who didn't make the party were being unfairly singled out. She told KCCI, "Why can't you have pizza for the whole class that, you know, completed the test? Why do you have to single out kids who didn't score high enough..."

The Woodward-Granger school district told KCCI that the pizza party program has been going on for the past eight years as an incentive for kids to do their best. The school district stated in an email, "No one involved intended to cause hurt feelings or feelings of discrimination. We want all students to feel safe and cared for at school." As a result of the complaints, the district will no longer offer incentives like a pizza party tied to any statewide assessment test.

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But did it really need to come to this? No pizza party for any students? I understand incentives for students to do well. But in elementary school, far more damage can be done by making a student feel excluded from the class. Make the pizza party a collective goal. The class must average a certain score to get the party. My kids have often come home talking about how their class 'earned' a reward. They've also spoken about times they missed out. But they were never singled out. It seems like parents and teachers at the Woodward-Granger school district should get together and work things out. Perhaps over some pizza.

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