DC schools: Paid for Grades
D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee announced plans yesterday to boost dismal achievement at half the city’s middle schools by offering students an unusual incentive: cash.
Ok, what?! I’m all for “radical intervention” as Rhee says, but paying students for attendance, manners, grades–how is that helping anything?
I suppose one could say that it’s a bit like the working world, I mean I know some people around my office who I think are just paid to show up. But we’re paid to perform now because we were motivated enough to learn what we needed to know when we were younger. It wasn’t fun by any means, but I don’t think having someone pay me would have helped. The most “payment” we got were local businesses that might give us stuff for a good report card. I fondly remember Showbiz Pizza giving out tokens, Six Flags giving park passes, other businesses, usually food, sweets and games oriented places participated. And there were students that got an allowance bonus for good grades, of course, but that was up to the parents to decide.
Besides people today, regardless of what the school stats say, are smart. If you give them a system with incentives, they will find a way to game that system. This will no longer become payment for learning, it will be payment for producing results. And that’s not the same thing.