The School District of Philadelphia will grade principals on breakfast participation as part of their performance report cards, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. All of the district’s 165,000 students are eligible for free breakfasts, but only about 54,000 participated last year, according to district figures. The goal is to increase that to around 70,000 by 2011.
While child nutrition advocates were generally encouraged by the policy, some principals questioned whether breakfast participation was a fair barometer of performance, since principals have no control over whether children eat before they leave for school, and little control over whether they eat when they get to school.
However, others point out that principals tend to make breakfast participation a priority during testing periods in order to maximize test performance, a major factor in grading principals. At those times, they employ strategies such as allowing breakfast to be eaten in the classroom, a strategy shown to increase participation. The rest of the time, most schools restrict breakfasts to the cafeteria, which tends to depress participation.