The other week, we discussed the pros and cons of performance pay for teachers. But what about paying students for being good?
Thousands of Washington, D.C. middle-schoolers had their first payday last week. In exchange for good behavior, attendance and grades, they received checks for $20-$50 as part of a yearlong, $2.7 million pilot program called “Capital Gains.”
The kids’ reactions were mixed, according to a Washington Post story. One boy told a reporter that he felt insulted by the idea that he’d need to be paid to do the work. Others said the prospect of a paycheck made them work harder.
The Capital Gains plan is a joint venture between the school district and Harvard University. Roland Fryer Jr., a Harvard economist at the university’s American Inequality Lab, will study whether such rewards motivate underprivileged middle school kids to do better, and whether they could be a way to narrow the achievement gap.
The Broad Foundation, which has been a major player in Oakland’s reform efforts, footed half the $2.7 million through a grant to Harvard.
What do you think about this concept of rewarding kids for what they’re supposed to do anyway? If Fryer’s research shows that it does make a difference, would that change your mind?
photo courtesy of the District of Columbia Mayor’s Office