EOY Envelope Reward

Enhancing End-of-Year Testing: The Power of Using Reward Envelopes

As the school year winds down and the anticipation of summer break builds, elementary school classrooms often buzz with a mix of excitement and nervousness. For educators, this time marks the culmination of months of hard work and learning, culminating in end-of-year testing. This is often a stressful and draining time for teachers and students alike. One way to combat testing fatigue is by using a classwide wide reward system I call Reward Envelopes (innovative, I know.)

In this blog post, I’ll show you how the simple concept of envelopes and rewards can transform the end-of-year testing experience for elementary school students, fostering motivation, engagement, and a sense of accomplishment. As always, take what works for you and tweak what doesn’t.

Setting Up the System

Check out the TL;DR below.

  1. Determine how many days your testing will take.
  2. Decide how many points to want students to earn and for what skills/behaviors.
  3. Determine what rewards you want to use in your envelopes.
  4. Let a student pick the reward for that day.
  5. The students who didn’t earn 4 points worked on a quiet activity with another teacher.

Keep reading to learn more about this system in greater detail!

Our tests were broken up into 9 test days. This helped break down sections of the test into smaller pieces so students were sitting at the computer for hours at a time. (This can be a double-edged sword. Either you have fewer, longer testing days or more frequent, shorter testing days. Ugh to both.)

To keep our students motivated during the process, we set up a points reward system. Here’s how it worked.

We wanted to make sure the students did their best over the course of nine days, so we set up a 4-point system for each testing day. The students could earn up to four points for doing the following things:

  1. They were on time for school (or at least the test.)
  2. They stayed focused during the test to the best of their ability.
  3. They stayed quiet during the test.
  4. They used the tools we had taught them as well as any tools available on the computer.

The tools we taught them included using scratch paper, double-checking their work, rereading the question, etc. We tracked this in a simple Google doc.

End of year testing reward envelopes

If they earned 4 points, they got to participate in the Envelope Reward! If they didn’t, they did a quiet activity with another teacher. (We worked together as a grade-level team.)

One 4-point student was chosen to be the STAR student of the day. They chose the envelope with the mystery reward. We purposely chose bigger, more motivating rewards so that students really tried to earn their points.

(Side note: Our test is called the RISE, so we called it “Rock the Rise”.)

Rock the Rise Envelope Testing Strategy

Implementing the Strategy

Implementing the envelope and rewards strategy requires thoughtful planning and coordination among educators. Here’s a step-by-step guide to its implementation:

  1. Selection of Rewards: Begin by selecting a variety of rewards that appeal to elementary school students. We chose things like popcorn party, glow stick dance party, donut day, etc. You want it to be big and motivating enough that students WANT to earn it. Download the labels and reward ideas for free here.
  2. Preparation of Envelopes: Put whatever rewards you have chosen inside the envelopes. Use the labels (or just write numbers on the outside) of each envelope to keep track of which ones you have completed. Keep the contents of the envelopes a surprise to maintain excitement and anticipation among students.
  3. Setting Expectations: Clearly communicate the expectations to students regarding how they can earn the rewards. Emphasize the importance of effort, focus, and perseverance during testing periods.
  4. Monitoring Progress: Throughout the testing period, monitor students’ progress and provide encouragement and support as needed. Recognize and celebrate their achievements, reinforcing the connection between effort and positive outcomes.

Benefits of the Strategy

The envelope and rewards strategy offers several benefits for both students and educators:

  1. Motivation and Engagement: The prospect of receiving a reward serves as a powerful motivator for students, encouraging active participation and engagement during testing periods. It transforms the testing experience from a source of anxiety to an opportunity for growth and achievement.
  2. Positive Reinforcement: By linking rewards to effort and achievement, educators reinforce positive behaviors and attitudes toward learning. Students learn to associate hard work with positive outcomes, fostering a growth mindset and a sense of self-efficacy.
  3. Sense of Accomplishment: Receiving a reward at the end of the testing period instills a sense of accomplishment and pride in students. It validates their efforts and serves as tangible evidence of their progress and success.
  4. Enhanced Classroom Culture: The envelope and rewards strategy fosters a positive and supportive classroom culture where students feel valued and appreciated. It strengthens the teacher-student relationship and promotes a sense of camaraderie among classmates.

Addressing Potential Challenges

While the envelope and rewards strategy offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to address potential challenges to ensure its effectiveness:

  1. Equity and Fairness: Ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to earn rewards, regardless of their academic ability or background. Consider implementing alternative incentives for students who may face additional challenges. This could look like changing the number of points needed and how students earn their points.
  2. Maintaining Accountability: Monitor students’ progress and ensure that the rewards are earned through genuine effort and dedication. Emphasize the importance of integrity and honesty in the pursuit of rewards.
  3. Managing Expectations: Manage students’ expectations regarding the nature and frequency of rewards. Emphasize the intrinsic value of learning and personal growth, rather than solely focusing on external incentives.


The envelope and rewards strategy offers a creative and effective approach to enhancing the end-of-year testing experience for elementary school students. By linking rewards to effort and achievement, educators create a positive and motivating learning environment where students feel empowered to succeed. Through careful planning and implementation, this strategy has the potential to foster motivation, engagement, and a sense of accomplishment among students, laying the foundation for continued academic success and lifelong learning.


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Meet the author
Cassie Tabrizi
Cassie Tabrizi
After being in elementary education for 14 years, and as founder of Create-Abilities, Cassie is passionate about helping fellow educators empower their teaching.
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