Just rewards: a project for social justice and recognition of English learners

English learners in the author's school district are excluded by board policy from honor roll recognition programs because the students are, by definition, working below grade level. For this project the author created a new student recognition program specifically for English language learners in order to ameliorate that inequity and increase social justice. Students who met standards-based benchmarks in English language development were rewarded with certificates at a public recognition ceremony. This paper recounts the history of the project and the responses of participating students and teachers. Student feedback indicated that their self-image was positively influenced, raising the question of whether this enhanced self-esteem will lead to greater participation and academic success in school. The author presented the finding of this project to the superintendent of schools, resulting in a plan to implement the English learner recognition program throughout the district over the next school year . . Keywords: social justice, equity, English learners, student recognition, awards