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Kids Score 40 Percent Higher When They Get Paid For Grades

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the show-them-the-money dept.

Education 716

A large number of schools participating in a pay-for-grades program have seen test scores in reading and math go up by almost 40 percentage points. The Sparks program will pay seventh-graders up to $500 and fourth-graders as much as $250 for good performance on 10 assessment tests. About two-thirds of the 59 schools in the program improved their scores by margins above the citywide average. "It's an ego booster in terms of self-worth. When they get the checks, there's that competitiveness -- 'Oh, I'm going to get more money than you next time' -- so it's something that excites them," said Rose Marie Mills, principal at MS 343 in Mott Haven. Critics, who are unaware that most college students don't become liberal arts majors, argue that paying kids corrupts the notion of learning for education's sake alone.

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Education's sake? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253637)

Maybe I'm an anomaly, but I'm only getting a degree to earn more.

Re:Education's sake? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253907)

Hell, I only got a degree so I could put off working another six years (what? change majors a few times, and you too can turn a four-year stint in lazy paradise into six years).

I think this is a great idea. I bet it's pretty damn cost-effective, too. We could improve results while cutting some of the overripe plums in school budgets.

I wonder how much something like this would be resisted by the teachers' unions? It seems the teachers are big fans, since it motivates the students... but in the long run, I could see the unions getting very upset, since it allows for some method of improving education that does not stem directly from teachers.

Re:Education's sake? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254121)

Unions don't care I bet.

If it hypothetically allow class sizes to get bigger with better results even then they won't care.

The union does not care at all about new teachers, and existing teachers are pretty much tenured.

Re:Education's sake? (5, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253957)

I know, it's a joke, but you'll probably be disappointed. Everyone you'll be competing with has a degree, the subject of the degree and the magnitude are now the dominate forces (even when ridiculous). In some areas right now they argue you need a PhD to do silicon verification, when in fact I think you probably don't need any degree, at all to do what the job ACTUALLY requires. It's just a matter of having a huge number of equally qualified applicants after the same job.

The problem with this, for all of you who have jobs, is not about some wishy washy bullshit about "the joy of learning", it's about manipulating metrics for maximum return. It's not about how much you learned or how well you can apply your knowledge, but how to appear best on paper to get the paycheck. When the rubber meets the road, are you any more qualified to do what you say you can do? We've all known people who groomed that 4.0 GPA (or close to it), who didn't amount to anything or who got washed ashore when they jumped in the ocean.

To be fair, it is a very applicable life skill to large corporation life, and we all have to do it from time to time. But if you look around your organizations and note the flaws, defects and absolutely mind-bogglingly braindead behavior that somehow persist...behind each one of those is usually some bogus metric that says "we're great!". The road to hell is paved with broken metrics.

To the present day businessman, nothing else matters but making money today. Thus any short term manipulation that demonstrably shows profit, is a good behavior. To almost any other profession, including responsible businessmen, you have to be sustainable through at least your career, or however long it takes to return what you owe, ride out tough times, and guarantee your future. Teaching kids how to act in their short term best interests exclusively is not at all the right way to go.

Re:Education's sake? (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253963)

Maybe you should take a couple classes in reading comprehension, since the line...

Critics, who are unaware that most college students don't become liberal arts majors, argue that paying kids corrupts the notion of learning for education's sake alone.

...explicitly states that most college students are not in it for education's sake.

Re:Education's sake? (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254165)

It's a poor excuse for a study. The underlying issues in (USA) public education today are:

#1 - We don't stratify. In other words, we uniformly put the slowest idiots in with everyone else, rather than putting the brightest in one class and on down the line.

#2 - classes move at the pace of the slowest idiot. The dumb shits hold up class, the mediocre kids learn nothing as well, and the smart kids get so bored (waiting for socially-promoted 8th-grade retards to learn stuff they already mastered in 2nd grade) that they start acting up.

#3 - real standardized testing - you know, anything that might require the kids to have learned something and prove it - has vanished. Between that and social promotion, there is no expectation on the kids to achieve anything, despite clear and repeated case studies and larger-scale studies proving that holding kids to high expectations works [thedefendersonline.com]. But since standardized testing started to mirror social problems - read: certain ethnic groups (black, illegal immigrant, etc) with near-zero family structure and a subculture that sees intelligence as race treason, were showing very poorly in the standardized tests - more and more of the tests have either been dumbed down to the point of uselessness, or have simply been done away with entirely.

Critics, who are unaware that most college students don't become liberal arts majors,

If you're going to offer the kids money, that's fine. One motivator works as well as another - when I was a kid, for example, a bunch of local restaurants chipped in and gave free meal coupons to any kid who made the honor roll.

First, though, you have to fix your metrics. The fact that they "doubled" achievement on the tests means little when the skills indicated by a "passing" grade on the newly-rebuilt "test" would, 20 years ago, have failed 2-3 grades lower.

Re:Education's sake? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254185)

Considering that most kids don't think past the end of the day (maybe the week if they know they're doing something fun on the weekend), getting paid for grades seems like an actual reward instead of "in twenty years, you'll be glad you got good grades now".

Oh man... (4, Funny)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253643)

Someone OWES my ass.

Re:Oh man... (1)

PGOER (1333025) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253751)

The real payoff is the sense of achievement when you get a good grade, or down the road when you get into college and eventually a well paying job. I hardly type that with out spitting soda on my screen, give me the cash!

Re:Oh man... (1)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253861)

down the road when you get into college and eventually a well paying job.

Like being a musician, celebrity or well-payed sportsman? Yeah, because you need a lot of study for that.

Re:Oh man... (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254175)

The real payoff is the sense of achievement when you get a good grade, or down the road when you get into college and eventually a well paying job.

The problem is, delaying gratification is hard, so it takes a huge delayed payout to motivate people. It may be cheaper overall to "front" people the money as an incentive sooner.

I see this occuring a couple places in society:

First, pensions in govt. and military jobs. They do encourage people to sign on, but I'll bet you could achieve the same incentive with a smaller, shorter-term payout that wouldn't put society on the hook for vast sums later on.

Second, doctor pay. I believe healthcare in the US would be more economical if we provided a smoother road for more people to become doctors, by paying a salary in medical school and as an intern, and making the hours better. This would drive down doctor pay, which we badly need to do.

Re:Oh man... (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254219)

Even better for me, this payoff is related to your performance on tests, not grades. I'm a huge slacker, but I test well, so despite my 3.2 GPA in high school, and 2.65 GPA in college (from a state school, no less), I would've been paid quite a bit from taking these tests!

Re:Oh man... (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253765)

actually, with the US debt the way it is, if you're an American someone does own your ass. by simple division every American owes $37,225, making no account for earning power. problem is, no one knows exactly who owns your ass. the government's kinda like the problem securities market that way. there's no way to trace who owns each of us (or rather owns about 1 year of each of our lives.)

Re:Oh man... (2, Interesting)

timster (32400) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253991)

You forgot to subtract the amount of that debt which is owed to US citizens. In other words, our "average" citizen may owe $37,255 via the collective government obligation, but that "average" citizen also holds most of that liability in US government bonds, either individually or collectively via Social Security trust/etc.

Re:Oh man... (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254095)

so when the boomers retire and withdraw that social security, they'll just have to pay it right back in the taxes necessary to pay the government debt to those programs, and more to make up the >$10 Trillion unfunded SS/Medicare obligation? sounds like a circle *&#$ to me. certainly a losing deal. if you or I were to start something like this, we'd be hoisted up next to Madoff and other Ponzi schemers.

Re:Oh man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253853)

Someone OWNS your ass.

Dang... (5, Funny)

scubamage (727538) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253649)

Glad it wasn't me. If I had that much cash back then it would have all been spent on pot. Smoking that much reefer would have to be bad for a developing mind... I might have become a physics major or something!

Re:Dang... (1)

Tybalt_Capulet (1400481) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253817)

My grades actually improved when I started to smoke pot. I have no idea why though.

Re:Dang... (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254073)

I've heard it claimed that smoking cannabis makes you absorb information better, but that you also have to be stoned in the tests for it to be of any use...

Combine this with school choice (4, Funny)

ewg (158266) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253667)

Before long children will be asking to transfer to the schools that pay the best.

Overjustification effect (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253697)

This is dangerous: studies have shown that when you give extrinsic motivation for something, the intrinsic motivation tends to die away.

The paper I'm thinking of first observed that children in a class had lots of fun painting for no reason. Then, they started to extrinsically reward the children for painting, and the children started to paint a lot more. Then the rewards stopped, and so did the painting.

As the link points out, there is some debate about the truth of what I just said.


Re:Overjustification effect (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253729)

Exactly. One of the most important lessons we can teach our children -to delay short-term gratification in order to achieve a greater long-term result- falls by the wayside when we start these bribery schemes.

Re:Overjustification effect (4, Insightful)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253805)

To people under the age of ten a six month reward cycle is a long term thing.

Hell for most college students, six months is long term.

Re:Overjustification effect (1)

Gay for Linux (942545) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253859)

Good education = higher pay is a pretty important lifelong lesson.

I'd say this is a great thing reinforces everything that our society about.

Some people may like learning for learning's sake but they become academics and sit around arguing with themselves. The "intrinsic" motivations are largely bs.

Re:Overjustification effect (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254197)

I would hardly call that short term.

Short term is blowing class to get high (for the seventh graders) because the long term is so mild (a decent grade).

Re:Overjustification effect (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253883)

This is dangerous: studies have shown that when you give extrinsic motivation for something, the intrinsic motivation tends to die away.

True, but isn't this how the United States civilization works?

You stop paying someone to do something and then they stop doing that something? You know like what the RIAA and MPAA says about artists? If they don't get paid money, then no art will ever be made?

Maybe I'm being a bit facetious here but considering how the "grown up" world works in regards to doing something only out of the benefit of being paid, we might as teach our kids early there is no such thing as charity.

Re:Overjustification effect (3, Interesting)

Het Irv (1424087) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253961)

I wonder though if there is a intrinsic motivation in the first place. At least in the school system that I grew up in (VA public schools), the standardized tests are pushed so hard that it feels like you are being force fed information with no benefit to you. Even classes in subject that I enjoyed were difficult because there was no time for extra activities or experiments, it was all memorization and repetition. I think the way schools are setup today in the US (or at least in Virgina) removes any form of intrinsic reward what so ever because of how stressful and draining the experience is.

Re:Overjustification effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253977)

That tends to be the case with a fixed reinforcement schedule (e.g. get a good grade, get a reward every time). But with a variable reinforcement schedule (e.g. get a good grade, SOMETIMES get a reward), I'm sure that the desired behavior of getting good grades would be less likely to fade out so quickly. It's still a tad bit uncomfortable treating schools like a big skinner box [wikipedia.org] but whatever works.

Re:Overjustification effect (4, Informative)

mveloso (325617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254049)

Yeah, but for 99% of the people on earth, the intrinsic motivation of their day job is somewhere near 0%. So get them used to that now, when they're kids.

I hope they're not going to do anything with this (1)

Jonas Buyl (1425319) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253705)

Imagine when they're going to college and need to pay to be able to study instead of getting payed to study. They probably won't bother if they never learned why they really should study. People better not get any ideas after this study...

Re:I hope they're not going to do anything with th (1)

Robin47 (1379745) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253803)

Imagine when they're going to college and need to pay to be able to study instead of getting payed to study. They probably won't bother if they never learned why they really should study. People better not get any ideas after this study...

Wonder how much they got paid to do this study?

Protip: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253709)

Providing financial incentives makes people work harder. Duh.

Scores may go up, but I doubt comprehension is (1, Troll)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253717)

All this does is bribe kids to cram as much information in as possible right before the exam, and I would be willing to bet most forget most of it in a week. It shows that kids have no passion for the material if the adults have to resort to bribes to get them to study. I've seen firsthand that people without passion for science/engineering, who only go into for the money or because their parents force them to, tend to make pretty shitty engineers and scientists...

Re:Scores may go up, but I doubt comprehension is (4, Insightful)

GlL (618007) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254017)

OK, not to rain on this parade, but....isn't our educational system pretty much predicated on cramming as much info into your head only to have you barf it back out on a test, never to use it again without looking it up?

No one seems to be asking the deeper questions:

Why do we have to pay kids to learn/study?

What are the specific flaws in the system?

What are we testing for?

What do we want to test for?

Are the testing methods adequate to the task?

Polly want a cracker?

Re:Scores may go up, but I doubt comprehension is (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254099)

Well in my knowledge, bribes have always been there to make kids with low scores attempt to get higher ones, like parents promising the kid to buy them whatever they want, or taking them wherever they want, or similar. I bet money has been there too. But that seems to be ok for kids with very low interest in learning. Like someone wrote several posts above, you don't need to do that with kids that get high scores, they already have their own motivation to do so. If you pay them, those motivations will be crushed by the incentive of money, and that sounds like corrupting to me. If those kids get used to be bribed like that, what stops them from taking bribes once they have jobs, to do something not very, eh, ethical perhaps?

The socialization of America continues . . . (-1, Flamebait)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253731)

This must be part of Obama's Grand Vision for America. After all, as Slashdotters, we all know that:

In Soviet Russia, Schools PAY YOU!!!!

Re:The socialization of America continues . . . (0, Flamebait)

Jonas Buyl (1425319) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253933)

This must be part of Obama's Grand Vision for America. After all, as Slashdotters, we all know that:

In Soviet Russia, Schools PAY YOU!!!!

Shhhht, don't give Fox News any ideas.

Who'da thunk? (3, Insightful)

Froze (398171) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253739)

The idea that offering real rewards for achievement would make a difference is something that should have been obvious to anyone. This environment of PC-Everybody-Gets-A-Trophy has really screwed people up quite badly. I will be very glad when the whole PC mentality gets scrapped.

Re:Who'da thunk? (4, Interesting)

cml4524 (1520403) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253945)

Much like the heavily fantasized notion of an idyllic suburban 50's culture, the ultra-PC "everybody wins" culture never really existed. It's a nice bogeyman, though, for people who want to drone about how much better their upbringning was than everyone else's. The worst it ever really culminated in was "participant"-style rewards like ribbons and whatnot. And it's a moot point now anyway since 90% of school time is devoted to drilling kids with standardized testing preparation.

A movement did take foot in public schools in the the early and mid 90s that emphasized self-esteem as a major factor in success, and it makes sense. If you feel bad about yourself to the point of pathology you're probably not going to strive for anything better. You can quibble about the effectiveness of specific attempts to rectify these situations, or the value in taking emphasis and public resources away from students with healthier attitudes to try and help moody kids, but stop trying to create a false history just so you have something to point a finger at in lieu of any specific concerns or solutions.

My wife has been teaching for 2 decades now and has seen every half-baked trend come and go as administrators bounce from one artificial one-size-fits-all solution to another. There's been one thing that's been consistent through it all, and one thing only: loudmouth parents who won't shut up and let schools teach. The majority of overprotectiveness and excuse-making for failure doesn't come from the schools at all, especially not now that we have NCLB and even stricter state mandates that practically demand that children be hammered mercilessly with bullet points regardless of their performance.

The majority of feel-good nonsense and excuse for repeated or consistent failure emanates from, and has always emanated from, parents.

yah (3, Insightful)

quall (1441799) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253745)

"Critics, who are unaware that most college students don't become liberal arts majors, argue that paying kids corrupts the notion of learning for education's sake alone." I don't know anyone who learns for the sakes of education. I don't think the 40% of kids who did better would have done so just to learn either. Money is motivation. Learning just for the hell of it is not. I wish they did this when I was in school. I got really poor grades in classes that I did no care about. I would have done much better if they paid me to learn the things that I found (and still are) useless.

Re:yah (1)

Jonas Buyl (1425319) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253885)

There have to be other ways to motivate pupils other than paying them. By paying them, essentially what you're doing is showing education is useful, why not find some more reasons why certain knowledge is useful? E.g. shows like Numb3rs should spark interest for maths. Teaching kids they study only to earn money may shape them into well-earning materialists but it's not going to spark the creativity needed to create little Einsteins.

Re:yah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253941)

Money is motivation. Learning just for the hell of it is not.

Yeah, yeah, that's all very interesting, but I said paper, not plastic.

Show me the money. (1)

Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253753)

The quote from Jerry Maguire and your kids will say "Show me the money!". Gee, I wonder what does it speak about our economy and our situation.

I had straight 8's all the way through highschool (0)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253755)

Where do I collect?

Seriously though, why is paying someone to do what they already should be doing, a good idea? Even if they are getting better grades, it is developing a sense of entitlement, which will be far more damaging than bad grades in the future. The world in general seems to already suffer from an overdose of self-entitlement.

Re:I had straight 8's all the way through highscho (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253843)

...Even if they are getting better grades, it is developing a sense of entitlement, which will be far more damaging than bad grades in the future....

That insult is usually reserved for people who thing they deserve something w/o any sort of work on their part. In this case, the money is given to kids only when they get good grades (a.k.a. worked for them). I don't really feel your "sense of entitlement" complaint applies.

Re:I had straight 8's all the way through highscho (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28254207)

You're out of luck. The program will never leave schools where the students are exceptionally poor and where graduation rates as well as basic math and reading skills are dismal.

My parents had the same philosophy: pay the lazy kid who barely cares enough to get out of bed in the morning for getting good grades, not the kid who would do well regardless of whether or not you paid him. The con was that my idiot brother then proceeded to register for classes with the mentally disabled kids so that he could get the maximum payout for the minimum of work. At least they're giving rewards for scores on standardized tests to try to prevent kids from gaming the system, but you know that the kids will find a way.

I firmly believe that education is a state and local responsibility, so far be it from me to criticize these parents for deciding to collectively pay their kids to go to school... but if they tried it in my area, someone would be receiving an angry phone call.

Not a surprise (3, Insightful)

LinuxInDallas (73952) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253769)

It's not terribly surprising. A big problem with kids (high-school included) is that they don't understand the value of an education. If you pay them then their short-sighted nature is much more likely to place a value on it.

Re:Not a surprise (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253989)

Yeah, it's another clear example of our culture's focus on instant gratification. It's this short-sighted greed that caused the housing market to crash, i.e. people wanting to make quick buck off of artificially inflated prices, and people who didn't care about getting into ridiculous amounts of debt so they could live in their dream home. Sigh, I wish we could educate people to learn life does exists after today (in most cases).

Rewards aren't new.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253777)

This just in, kids do better when rewarded. Full report at yesterday o'clock.

Re:Rewards aren't new.... (1)

Gay for Linux (942545) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253901)

You'd think so but half the people in this thread are whining that some mystical, imagined "love of learning" is being lost.

Quite the upgrade from my childhood! (1)

imajinarie (1057148) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253781)

...and to think I worked hard for just the annual "Book-It" Pizza Hut party! Really, though, if kids come to expect this as the norm, what will the NEXT incentive need to be to entice them to take more difficult and challenging classes (which may be harder to get the higher grades in, comparatively)? But, in a way, this is kind of like the bonus system used at many corporations... if you meet certain milestones which are above the standard, you gain more recognition accordingly.

Motivation... (3, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253787)

In America, it is cool to get bad grades. I guess this means that if kids realize that hard work==success==money, that they do better. Now, how can we use this to eliminate the counterculture where it is good to be stupid? When the kids stop getting paid, do they drop down to their original performance levels? How much do they need to be paid in order to perform better? We need a lifelong study of these kids to see what impact this had.

39.6 percentage points higher than last year, when the kids were in third grade.

Does this mean that kids are 39.6% smarter than we thought they were? They just needed a reason to show it?

High-poverty (2, Interesting)

PMuse (320639) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253793)

From TFA:

About two-thirds of the 59 high-poverty schools in the Sparks program -- which pays seventh-graders up to $500 and fourth-graders as much as $250 for their performance on a total of 10 assessments -- improved their scores since last year's state tests by margins above the citywide average.

  1. Find a sample population with no money and lousy grades.
  2. Pay students $$ for grades.
  3. Record artificially large grade-improvements. Declare a panacea.
  4. ???
  5. Profit.

Re:High-poverty (1)

Gay for Linux (942545) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253915)

Rich kids need money less, that's pretty obvious. These kids need help getting out of their poverty situations. Just giving them money doesn't help; giving them money AND education to help them get a step ahead in life, that's genius.

Re:High-poverty (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253987)

Giving them a little bit of money now and then doesn't really help either, unless they're educated enough to be able to do something useful with it (and the parents, who may ultimately end up with this money, as well)

weird (5, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253795)

When some kids were getting paid for grades ($5 for a B, $10 for an A when I was a kid). My parents refused. They would tell me that it was expected of me to get good grades, and I didn't deserve a reward for doing what I was supposed to be doing anyways.

Re:weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28254139)

Rewards take many forms, though. At which point does a reward become unacceptable in your opinion?

My parents, for example, never paid me for good grades, but they did laud me if I get an A or a B. Would you say that that's bad - that I didn't deserve a reward (which is what it is, when you think about it) for doing what I was supposed to be doing anyways? Do you think I would've turned out to be a better person (whatever that means!) if I hadn't been commended for things like this when I was young?

I'm honestly curious.

Re:weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28254187)

Exactly. My boss is the same way. He expects the best of me, and pays the same no matter how well I do. It should be noted that I work for the government.

Re:weird (2, Insightful)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254203)

I'd mod you up if I didn't have posts in this topic already. There are things in life you should be doing good no matter if you get a reward or not. Getting decent grades at school (specially if your parents are paying for it, is a way to let them know you actually care about their efforts), is one of them. There are so many things that go wrong when you start rewarding things that just shouldn't. It would be like paying people to be good. How wrong is that.

Re:weird (0)

SixFactor (1052912) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254215)

Amen to that. I've told my kids that their parents have jobs: I am the breadwinner, while mom manages the household. It is therefore their job to attend school. I get performance reviews at work (while mom is of course, exempt from such :D). It is therefore important for them to do well at school, and grades, like it or not, reflect that progress.

Seems to me that the financial incentive has two functions: while it can clearly be a motivator (that likely promotes only short-term and shallow learning; but that's another discussion), it is also an indicator of how parents value (or de-value) education.

Personal Experience.. (2, Interesting)

bossvader (560071) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253801)

Right or Wrong my nieces grades have started to climb as soon as I started a "Grade Bounty". It has brought focus, and there is more motivation other than just Mom hounding her. I am slowing ratcheting up the bar, sort of got her hooked as a freshman in High School and going to make Sophomore bar a little higher and so on. Far as I am concerned money well spent. Cracked me up when she asked Mom if I was really Uncle was really going to pay up...I said you get the grades...I will pay up.

Not money but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253813)

Pay 'em with books, toys etc.

Rewards (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253835)

I don't know if this is still done, but I remember growing up some fast food places would give a free ice cream or sandwich to a all-a/b report card.

...I never got any :(

Don't kid yourelves (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253847)

Before all you young parents rejoice at this newfound panacea, I can tell you for certain that it is not even close to being a sure fire solution. There are none. We've tried paying for grades, getting angry, being cool, punishing, withholding desired things, rewarding, ignoring, cajoling, helping, you name it. For most kinds, one or more of these techniques will work, unless you are blessed with kids that do their schoolwork on their own without you having to lift a finger. There are such kids out there, oddly enough. Two of our three kids do well in school, partly as a result of such standard parenting techniques. However, we have one child who, in around 7th grade, decided homework was a useless and profoundly irritating burden, so he stopped doing it. All of it. He is now a junior in high school and gets mainly Fs, except in music which he enjoys so he gets an A, usually. He consistently scores at or above the 97th percentile in the numerous standardized tests that kids take these days, including the PSAT. He will soon start taking the SAT and will presumably do well enough.

The catch, of course, is that 60% or more of his school grades are contributed by homework. Achieving 60% or less of the class credits gets you an F. So, here's a case where the kid does well on tests, usually getting As and Bs, but consistently gets Fs overall. He knows the material better than most of his peers, but is failing. I don't buy the BS that homework is an important life lesson that prepares you for the future, blah blah blah. I do realize, and my son either doesn't or just doesn't care, that any college education worth getting requires a lot of homework.

We know of at least one other child among his peers with pretty much the same picture. Neither cares much for monetary incentives.

Re:Don't kid yourelves (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28254013)

Your son has some mental issues. He will probably turn to drugs to deal with it, or commit suicide. You should get him some professional help.

I know this because the exact same thing happened to me.

House Hold Decisions (1)

anonymousNR (1254032) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253903)

This kind of stuff should be more a house hold thing, where parents decide to reward the kid if he/she performs well and exceeds a certain expectation, rather than schools doing this.

Skip The School (Home School) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28253923)

I can pay my own kids. No need to pass through the "education" system.

Speaking from Experience (1)

hardwarejunkie9 (878942) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253925)

Back when I was in highschool, a brief two years ago, my school district got a grant from the SOAR program which helped underwrite the costs for AP programs and testing. The students received not only a decreased application fee, but their fee refunded and 100 dollars on top for passing the exam. This didn't just encourage students to perform better, it caused the honors programs to increase drastically in their enrollment. Many more "average" students took advantage of the program and now are enjoying the college tuition credit that the AP exams offers. The most interesting thing to consider about this was that many students started referring to their education as their "job". I personally knew many students whose grades improved upon moving to harder material. The response I've heard from many accounts is that they felt that they finally were respected for the work they put into their grades. Now, the problem, I think, that may lie with this system as proposed above is that it seems to create no real boundary line between scholastic rigor and simply doing what is expected of you. If you show up and do what is asked of you, they pay you. It's not really creating the initiative among the students to own their own education. The moment that a student can realize for themselves that the teacher actually works for *THEM* and not the other way around is the moment that they can truly excel. All I can say is that I've seen the effects first hand. Our two local schools were public, poor, and had probably 700-850 students (consider that enrollment strongly decreases for junior and senior level due to drop out rates) combined for the total enrollment. We had 8 national merit finalists (top half percentile) and the National AP Scholar (only 1 or two given out per YEAR).

short-sightedness. (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253927)

This only shows the short-term goals of people. Very few people think further than only 10 years ahead.

Re:short-sightedness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28254043)

exactly - and since it'll NEVER change - we might aswell USE that fact rather than fight it, yes?

Re:short-sightedness. (1)

ndpope (1281454) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254179)

That is the culture we live in. Governments look as far ahead as they the next election. In the US, if you want to try to effect change through the government, go to a Senator (six-year term) instead of a Representative (two-year term). A Rep is looking for how to get elected to their next term before the ink is dry on the results from the last election. You won't get that change unless your good idea comes packaged with a bundle of laundered money, but at least you tried. Parliamentary governments look to when the next elections must be scheduled. Do you think Gordon Brown is worrying about the economic situation in 2016 when he is struggling to keep his hold on power? I don't. Self-interest is the greatest motivator. If the child sees something in it for them, they will perform better. Some children value learning and the money won't help. some see little value in learning and money will help because there is some value. Some children may be more motivated by seeing their name on a plaque in the hallway of their school than they would be by money. The point is not to look at this study and say it does not work for everyone, so it is not worth paying them money. The point is to look at the 70% (wild-asses guess) of underperforming students and determine what motivates them. If this helps 20% of that group of underperformers, then you are left with 56% of the total pool that needs help. Then move on to the next idea to attack that smaller pool. Just because something does not help everyone does not mean it cannot help anyone.

Look in the mirror (3, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253947)

This is the society we have built. Consumerism, greed, status seeking etc.

"We have met the enemy and he is us." -- Pogo

Re-enforcing failure (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253955)

When they get the checks, there's that competitiveness -- 'Oh, I'm going to get more money than you next time' -- so it's something that excites them," said Rose Marie Mills, principal at MS 343 in Mott Haven.

It does absolutely nothing for students who are uncompetitive or who view competition as something negative. It also hastens the failure of those who are already disadvantaged. If you can't compete (successfully) because of your home life or other circumstances, then this will just re-enforce the failure.

Again this is another example of incompetency getting promoted to leadership positions. If you need to pay people to achieve, then you aren't a very good teacher. If you want to merely train people to be good robotic workers in industry then schools need to focus less on the "3 Rs" (reading, writing and mathematics) and more on direct vocational training.

I do suspect that this protocol is a direct result of the school principal trying to meet and exceed quotas. Of course I could be wrong, but it seems more often than not that these short-sited, pop-psychology social engineering methods are often used as a gimmick for career advancement.

Re:Re-enforcing failure (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254097)

It does absolutely nothing for students who are uncompetitive or who view competition as something negative.

While the rest of your arguments are reasonable, this one is pretty dumb. Getting money is motivation for almost anyone whether or not they are competitive. The fact that the kids are making it competitive is just additional motivation on top of that.

Only School Equals Learning? (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253965)

Interesting. If this program was implemented when I was growing up, I probably wouldn't be a college dropout. I also probably wouldn't be fluent in Japanese with reading and writing capabilities as well as be a web developers with side knowledge of programing in gtk using C as well as an assortment of other languages.

At the point I am at now, I feel like the only thing that College has done for me is get me in a huge amount of dept. This program may have set me right.

When Money Is Involved (1)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253971)

... When money is involved people tend to try and maximize the opportunity to get money.

I'd be more apt to belive that by offering money you are raising the stakes and you'll get more people cutting corners to get the money.

I'd wager more cheating then more intelligence, once you add money into the picture.

By adding money as a reward you are raising the stakes. At some point, the risk vs. reward line is passed and the reward is now worth cheating.

I've busted plenty of people trying to cheat and I have seen on serveral occassions the reason they cheat was "If I got all As I could go to cancun, or I get a new bike, or I get a car for graduation, etc.....".

FYI: Baseball caps are not the way to cheat. Neither is your cell phone on vibrate.

(They would send an SMS to the cheaters based on which 10 second span was the answer so:

1-10: A
11-20: B
21-30: C
31-40: D
41-50: E
51-60: Pause between questions.

So I sat there looking at the answer sheet and sure enough the SMS messages were coming in. Wasn't hard to throw out all 9 of them.


Sadly these were adult students to boot...

Compete with drugs (3, Insightful)

s31523 (926314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253973)

I wonder if this would help keep kids on the books and off the pipe or off the corner selling dope... I mean if you could earn $500 for getting a good grade then it might not be so desirable for the kids to seek out gangs and drugs as a source of income... The situation is much more complicated, but it does eliminate some of the argument from the inner city kids who state that studying ain't gonna put food on the table. I know, many people are yelling "That is the parents job", but that is not reality for an inner-city kid with 4 siblings and 1 parent who is addicted to booze and/or drugs and spends any state/fed assistance on their habit....

Cost v Benefit (2, Interesting)

PMuse (320639) | more than 4 years ago | (#28253983)

Is $250-500/student worth it for the improvements obtained? That's not too hard to answer. Find an alternative score-improvement technique and compare the per-pupil costs.

(For a sense of scale, the per pupil cost of a full year's education in nearby Pennsylvania averages ~$10,700 [wikipedia.org]. This program would add ~5% to the cost of an education, though only if every student maxed it out.)

Market Economics... (5, Insightful)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254025)

Rich kids that go to public school already know what this is all about.

When one is artificially paid for a commodity that is normally without value, the acquisition of that commodity for sale is just good business.

In other words I get paid 10 bucks for an A, I well pay you 5 bucks to get it for me, and make a tidy sum, or "buy your classwork from your poor student friends for better grades".

Oh well at least they are learning something! America's future at work!

Like paying programmers by the line of code (1)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254183)

People behave the way they're compensated.

The problem is that the metric never quite matches the goal. Anyone who's been in software development long enough has seen one or more "objective performance metrics" management fads come and go. With these there are incentives tied to making the dates, writing x lines of code, having fewer than y bugs, or whatever. What happens is that people make sure they pass the metrics. The trouble is that the metrics don't measure the desired behavior, just an imperfect proxy for it, and people figure out how to game the system. With programmers, they under commit, won't make changes, won't provide support, and won't work with their peers (though the exact nature of the dysfunction varies depending on the incentive structure). With students, the test becomes the goal and other aspects of learning are neglected.

Money is always... (2, Interesting)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254195)

...an acceptable substitute for parental supervision and interest into what their children are learning. The latchkey, Playstation generation needs to be bribed to actually educate themselves because frankly their parents couldn't be bothered. Absolutely pathetic if you ask me. Children 50 years ago would die if they saw how easy kids have it today.

and on the other end... (5, Insightful)

meridoc (134765) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254209)

This will put even more pressure on teachers to teach to the tests. Especially in low-income areas (where these trials are being done), teachers want their students to get what they're worth.

Kids aren't "getting smarter" (by the way, what does "smart" entail?) They're learning to play the game that is the educational system.

Also, if the sponsoring [opportunitynyc.org] organizations [harvard.edu] can afford to pay each kid $250-500, where the heck are they getting those funds, and why aren't they giving it to inner-city schools in the first place?

My parents did the same for me (2, Insightful)

sckeener (137243) | more than 4 years ago | (#28254221)

My parents paid me $10 for As (I got $20s/class if I got straight As) $5 for Bs -$5 for Cs -$10 for Ds and if I got a F, it didn't matter what my other grades were. I got nothing. After they started doing that, I was getting straight As.
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