Behind the Headline: Should Schools Bribe Kids For Grades?

By 04/08/2010

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On Top of the News
Should Schools Bribe Kids For Grades?
4/8/10 | Time Magazine

Behind the Headline
Cash For Test Scores
Fall 2008 | Education Next

Time Magazine reports on the results of randomized experiments conducted by Harvard economist Roland Fryer to see whether financial incentives boost student achievement.

The experiment ran in four cities: Chicago, Dallas, Washington and New York. Each city had its own unique model of incentives, to see which would work best. Some kids were paid for good test scores, others for not fighting with one another.

In the city where Fryer expected the most success, the experiment had no effect at all — “as zero as zero gets,” as he puts it. In two other cities, the results were promising but in totally different ways. In the last city, something remarkable happened. Kids who got paid all year under a very elegant scheme performed significantly better on their standardized reading tests at the end of the year. Statistically speaking, it was as if those kids had spent three extra months in school, compared with their peers who did not get paid.

A study by Kirabo Jackson published in the Fall 2008 issue of Ed Next found that a program that paid students and teachers for passing scores on Advanced Placement tests produced meaningful increases in participation in the AP program and improvements in other critical education outcomes.  A follow up study found that students in participating schools attended college in greater numbers, had higher college GPAs, and higher college completion rates.

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