Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pay for Grades

Imagine that as a teacher you receive a $3,000 bonus if your students score well on state exams, and students themselves who excel get a $50 prize. Will monetary awards lead to better test scores? Apparently, some administrators in the New York City School System believe so, and they are offering these bonuses to teachers and students alike. The New York Times reported in a front-page story, March 5, 2000, “Next Question: Can Students Be Paid to Excel?” over 5,000 students in 58 schools this year alone were awarded bonuses, for a grand total of $500,000 in pay outs. Private donors, not taxpayers dollars, fund the rewards program.

Students recipients claimed the incentive pushed them to learn the requisite skills to do well. Even teachers initially reluctant about the concept have gleefully accepted the cash bonuses. For details on the program and what other school systems around the country are doing to reward students who excel on standardized test, check this article:

How would you feel about receiving a monetary reward if your students excellend on a state exam? What about monetary or similar rewards for students? Post your comments.

Photo credit: Annie Tritt for The New York Times


Sharon said...

You might not get onto the site right away, either search for it or try this link:
This is a tricky situation. If we start rewarding students for doing well with money, aren't school systems going to run into financial problems. I have no understanding of how the NYC schools came to have this money, but hey...wouldn't it be nice to get rewarded with a bonus. Our profession doesn't really allow us the luxury of bonuses. I get frustrated with the fact that I work so hard and get paid less then other teachers, just because they have been around longer. But that is a completly different situation. If we go down this path, where will it end? Giving rewards are great, but at what cost?

Tony Ruiz said...


Getting a bonus for teaching. That would be nice. This story came as a coincidence for me. A few weeks ago, 60 minutes ran a story about students in Denmark. They get paid as long as they are doing well. When I was teaching in Japan, I also got paid a bonus up to 4 months of my salary without any incentive. But, I believe this system being developed in NYC would be a great start. But, the question is, would money be an catalyst for modifying student willingness to learn in an inner school? For me, I don't know. I think other dynamics come into play.

I do like the idea of getting extra pay. As teachers, we all do. Will it help students? Well.... There is a lot to ponder here.


Tina Miller said...

I have mixedfeelings about whether this is a great ide or not. There is something very wrong with being in a professin where you are given additional incentives in order to do well and that students can do well with these additional monetary incentives. Where does it stop? What does it mean that it takes money to do well. Are we sending the wrong message? Are we becoming like the corporate word where there is the whole idea of pay for performance? I am not sure whether this is a good idea or not. The other part of me says that if it works who are we to knowck it. Especially since according to the article the money is coming from private funding. I would love to see what other people think about this. I like the idea that Sharon brings up how teachers who have been around longer get more money based on seniority. Is that right or is it just the way it's done. This could get to be very philosophical. What do others have to say. I can't wait.

gayle said...

I think incentive programs are great, especially when the reward is money. What motivates people more than money? Don't get me wrong, seeing a first grader succeed in reading is very rewarding. I chose the teaching profession to make a difference. I don't think I could work any harder than I do now. However, there are times when I feel I have reached my limit. An incentive could be just the thing to help me through.

I don't think students should be rewarded. Students should work hard for the feeling of accomplishment and success. It is just like rewarding a poorly behaved child for finally behaving. It is something that he/she should do.

As for finding the money to reward teachers, there is plenty of money around to give to teachers. In fact, Hartford currently has a similar program. Through a private company, teacher dollar cards have been rewarded to teachers of schools who have made improvement. The card has an amount of $250.00 and may be used to purchase materials for the classroom. It is a wonderful card to have, considering the amount of money we spend on our students.

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