Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Penny for Your Thoughts

What do you think of paying students to receive good grades? As you might have heard, some schools have started reward programs for students to excel, including doing well on state-mandated exams. In some cases, school systems in which students have fared poorly have received grants to improve scores. These grants pay students lump sums of money if they meet state standards. I posted a blog on this topic a few months ago, with details about school systems that have tried this subversive tactic, or is it subversive at all?

A recently released research report found a positive correlation between students’ reading scores and rewards programs. To read a synopsis of this study, click on the link:

Also, check my blog post, “Pay for Grades,” published on March 5, 2008.

What are your thoughts on offering students rewards programs such as cash, field trips, tickets to amusement parks, and so forth for doing well on high-stakes tests?


Nicole G said...

This concept is very interesting to me and is one that I have not yet heard of. I think that it is absoultely ridiculous and think of it as a bribe. I know that many students are unmotivated to succeed but I feel that by rewarding them with money we are sending the wrong messege. I feel that in order to encourage and reward kids for their acadamic excellence fun activites that are school related should be done. I also feel that to encourage students who are unmotivated it is better to show them the real world consequence that their actions have rather then having them not be rewarded with cash. I feel that it is the ultimate bribery and it has no place within the academic setting.

Meg said...

What ever happened to intrinsic motivation? The idea of paying students in ridiculous. While some children may need motivating their are other ways to connect and motivate a studnet. As a parent, I'm not sure that I would want my teenage daughter earning money for good grades. I feel that this is a decision that should be left up to me as a parent.

michele said...

I agree with Nicole and Meg. Students need to learn that there are times in life when you have to work hard to do a good job and take pride in what you accomplish. This is similar to paying a child for A's on a report card, another practice that I do not support. As Meg asked: Whatever happened to intrinsic motivation? This is an area where many of our students could use some work. They are accustomed to receiving a trophy for everything that they participate in. Later in life there will be times that they will have to work hard and there might not always be an instant award attached to what they are doing. I think it would be in their best interest to learn that now and develop a sense of accomplishment and pride in their successes, not necessarily money.

Colleen said...

Although I can see where Nicole, Meg and Michele are coming I would like to add a little something new to the argument. I have heard of this before and seen it while student teaching an urban school (one which is currently under tremendous pressure from NEASC to get scores up, standards higher and students progressing). I too think it is not the best route to go, however I also am at a loss for what else one can do in a large-scale fashion to improve standardized test scores.
At this school, motivation is so low that students are given prizes for simply coming and taking the CAPT exam. That is right, just come put your name and you get a free slurpy, a t-shirt, etc. At another high school I work at the students are given the opportunity to win a free car if they take their test and do well. The car sits in the courtyard and can be gawked at while students are in classes each and every day.
I agree that this does not seem like the best way to go, however in areas where motivation simply is not there, then perhaps doing what teachers, administrators and board members can do to get them to do well may be necessary. As a parent, no I do not agree with it. But as a teacher in school district that is at risk of being taking over and restructured, I agree with trying new things to get students to do better!

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