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Underground market, Stealing and Selling of Reward Tickets

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PBIS World
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Has anyone else had problems with a PBIS reward underground market developing?

Our school is in its first year of implementing PBIS and printed tickets are handed out to students by teachers and staff when students are following the expectations. These tickets can then be turned in as often as weekly for tangible (like candy and toys) and non-tangible (like grade-level ice cream parties) rewards. Teachers all have stacks of tickets, often kept on their desks, and there are extras for teachers to replenish with in the main office and counseling office. We found out today that students have been stealing these tickets throughout the school and trading and selling them in a black market of sorts. Over 500 have been stolen that we know of, as well as actual rewards (like candy).

Has anyone else dealt with something similar or have any ideas of how to move forward? The program's acceptance is shaky in our school as is, and this will likely just add fuel to the fire. This underground network also isn't something isolated to just a few students, it has spread rapidly, but of course doesn't involve everyone. Any suggestions or ideas on how to move forward would be appreciated.

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PBIS World
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I would require a teacher signature on the back of each ticket before it can be redeemed. That will put a stop to kids stealing them, but maybe not kids selling them on a "black" market of sorts. But even if they do, that still makes them a desirable enough reinforcer, and that is what you want the tickets to be. As for the tangible rewards (candy, etc) being stolen, I would have those rewards kept in a central location under lock and key (like the front office). STudents that win them would have to go to the front office to get their prize. Sounds like a really neat program and I hope that your school can figure these issues out!

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Ah, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well 🤣 !

Good suggestion! PBIS Reward programs like this can be tricky when students undermine it like this. I think the idea above of having teachers sign the back in order for them to be redeemed is a good idea.

I've been a PBIS coach for a district K-12, and was able to curb this trend by requiring that tickets not only be signed by the teacher when given to the student, but the teacher also wrote the student's name on the ticket before giving it to them.

The only other way to really tackle this would be to make a centralized digital system where students were listed in an excel sheet with the tickets they earned next to their names as checkmarks or just a number. You can't have all staff inputting data into it otherwise they will be accessing it at the same time and overwriting each other's checks when saving, so teachers could email someone in the office or a main person who would input all this into the excel sheet. But the Excel sheet could be accessible to all teachers and staff just to monitor and check when/if they wanted or needed to. This is a somewhat laborious method and works best if the schools are some how able to integrate the tracking of tickets into the current attendance and disciplinary software/database.

If the staff and school(s) is already weary of PBIS, then it would probably be best to just print tickets that have a line for the teacher's signature and another for the student's name. This is a quick and fairly effective method to prevent the underground ticket economy.

Additionally, you might think about a consequence for those found to be involved in the illegal trade or stealing. A good consequence would be that they are put on a no-reward/no-ticket list for the month and are banned from receiving tickets or cashing them in. The following month, they are removed from the list and allowed once again to participate.

I hope this doesn't spook the staff from pushing forward with PBIS, it really is a great and effective method for addressing behavior in schools!

Best of luck and let us know what you end up doing/trying as well as the result.
Cheers!

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