A student contract is a written agreement between a student and the faculty for the purpose of behavior modification. They are usually made up of one or more selected behaviors that need to be improved upon, followed by a corresponding reward. Student contracts are designed to be positive, focusing more on goals and reward than discipline. However, some do include a penalty clause, for cases when the student has failed to meet the expected behaviors.
Student contracts are often seen to be effective for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a different approach than just sending a student to detention. With a student contract, the effort and time utilized by the staff, demonstrates to the students that he/she is cared about, and that all faculty is serious about the need for a behavior change. In addition, a student contract reinforces positive behaviors that the student has signed and agreed upon. Half the battle of getting a student to behave can just be getting them to decide it is what they want, also. Upon signing a student contract, a student often feels a greater sense of responsibility for their actions.
Some school faculty are critical of student contracts and see them as a way of rewarding one student for behaviors that should be expected of them, while excluding those who always behave well. However, sometimes rewards can be simple privileges, such as the student getting to choose their seat at lunch or being able to participate in after school activities. Additionally, students who have behavioral issues, often have a handicap when it comes to learning effectively. Therefor, by implementing a student contract, teachers and administrators are giving the individualized attention and support that the student needs to be successful in school, while maintaining order and teaching an important lesson in accountability. Student contracts have proven to be highly effective in correcting many behavioral issues.