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Florida High School Program Segregates Students by Ability

Students suffering from poor academic performance at a Florida high school can no longer choose where to eat their lunch—unless they get their grades up. A controversial new program segregates students in the cafeteria by grade point average and attendance as an incentive to boost achievement.

Hudson High School in Pasco County launched the program at the start of the school year to track students' progress and flag those who are not doing well academically, school officials told Fox 13. Students with at least a 2.0 and good attendance earn a wristband, which allows them to eat outside, among other privileges.

Critics of the policy say it's unfair to struggling students, some of whom told Fox that the program has led to unsafe overcrowding in the cafeteria.

Principal David La Roche told the Washington Post that the program, which he believes will increase discipline and attendance, calls for students to reach "minimum" standards.

"We're trying to motivate students to take school and life seriously," he said. "We're not asking everybody to have a 3.0."

Programs that track or group students by ability, which fell out of favor by the 1990s, have resurfaced in the last decade. Detracking advocates argue that these policies benefit high achievers at the expense of low-income and minority students.