Paying for AP success

A nonprofit funded primarily by ExxonMobil will pay $250 to students who pass an Advanced Placement exam in Calculus AB; Calculus BC; Computer Science A; Computer Science AB; Statistics; Biology; Chemistry; Environmental Science; Physics B; Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism; Physics C: Mechanics; English Language; and English Literature. The National Math and Science Initiative Inc., which includes business leaders and CEOs, is emulating “an 11-year-old Texas program begun by philanthropist Peter O’Donnell,” reports the Washington Post.

In 10 Dallas high schools that pay the bonuses, the number of passing AP scores (3 or higher on a 5-point scale) has increased from 71 in 1995 to 877 in 2006. The Texas program also has increased teacher training, reduced AP test fees for students and provided teachers with annual bonuses averaging about $4,000. Some teachers have pocketed as much as $10,000 a year in bonuses.

Texas lawyer and education activist Tom Luce, the organization’s chief executive, said the program is designed to “help kids succeed in high school so they can succeed in college” and particularly to encourage minority students to major in math, engineering and science. Luce said AP English was included because reading and writing skills are essential to success in math and science.

About 15 percent of high school graduates in 2006 earned a passing score of 3 or better on an AP exam.

“The program also would help fund an initiative called UTeach that aims to produce more math, science and computer science teachers,” the Post reports.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. I wonder if these sorts of reports give Alfie Kohn chest pain.

  2. We can hope.

  3. wayne martin says:

    Wow .. $250 inducement/bonus/gift to get kids to do what they should be doing anyway! Society pays between $100,000 and $200,000 (actually a lot more when teacher pensions are added in) to provide a “free” education for every child (including illegals). And American children have become so blasé about their educations that they don’t want to take advantage of this huge public outlay of funds that education boosters like this Exxon-based fund are willing to payout their corporate dollars to get kids to learn enough to be able to get through college. This can not be good for the future of the country.

    Suppose kids decide that it’s time to hold out for more money? Will Exxon up the ante to $500 per AP course? Then maybe the students can hold breath until they turn blue in the face and Exxon forks out $1,000?

    And who is going to pay them to pass their college courses? Certainly with the expectation that not only should education be free, but someone should pay you to sit through some nominal number of classes in order to graduate, this expectation for “inducements” will soon permeate the college scene too.

    So .. how much should college students get for passing English 101?

  4. Indigo Warrior says:

    Wow .. $250 inducement/bonus/gift to get kids to do what they should be doing anyway! Society pays between $100,000 and $200,000 (actually a lot more when teacher pensions are added in) to provide a “free” education for every child (including illegals).

    And much of this money is wasted, squandered, misappropriated, etc.

    Don’t forget that Society also points a gun to the heads of students and parents to force them to attend some sort of school. Society also forces everyone to pay school taxes even if their children are privately educated, or they have no children at all.

    Methinks that if Society wants to keep a public system, they should remove all compulsion to attend, run it on a triage basis (to benefit the kids who would benefit the most), and be more open to competition from the private sector.

  5. My main feeling is “born too late.” I could have made an easy $750 off of this (more, had they allowed American History and French Literature on the list).

    Of course the fact that with a number of APs you can effectively shave a year off of your undergraduate education -saving THOUSANDS of dollars – doesn’t seem to be enough of an enticement. (It was to me. That, and not having to sit in the 1,000 person “introductory” lectures for classes).

    I dunno. It frustrates me that American kids seem to be so anti-education, anti-hard-work that they have to be bribed to do anything. Makes me want to say “Make education voluntary” or something like that…but then again, I’m not sure how I’d feel about my taxes doubling to support all the people who “choose” not to have an education but can’t do any kind of work to support themselves….

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    How many of the winners will tip their teacher 10% or so?

  7. wayne martin says:

    The following is from the Seattle Times (Boeing country):

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/boeingaerospace/2003616877_aircraft14.html

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007 – Page updated at 02:01 AM

    Boeing, Airbus warned on rivals

    By Dominic Gates

    Seattle Times aerospace reporter

    Steven Udvar-Hazy heads a key airplane-leasing firm.

    PHOENIX — The most influential man in the global commercial-aviation business said Tuesday that Boeing and Airbus should expect serious competition to emerge from China, Russia and Japan starting in about 15 years.
    —-

    China is working hard to have Boeing teach it how to build aircraft. The general sense in the industry is that the US has about 20-30 years left to exploit this technology. More than an engineer, not a village, to build a jet liner. With US kids needing “bonuses” just to take AP classes, one can only wonder if they understand the stakes that are on the table if they don’t do well in public school and college? Manufacturing jobs are literally flying out of the US, in part because of an under-educated workforce.

  8. From non-educators, we educators tend to hear fairly often that if we only ran schools more like a business, things would be so much better. In the business world, money is used as an incentive – whether it’s for things employees should do as part of their job (stay there more than three months or a year) or something which is above the average (sell a certain amount in a short time period). Yet, when business practices are applied to education and money is used as an incentive for something students should do – take advanced classes – and yet is also above average (AP classes are college-level courses given at the high school level), somehow, it is still a sign that something is wrong with education. And we’re asked, suspiciously, if WE really want to improve education or if there’s some other selfish agenda we’re promoting.

  9. Incentives aren’t the same thing as bribes. A bribe is money paid to get someone to do something that they will not otherwise do. An incentive is offered to someone who has already chosen to do a task, but paid out only when that person performs the task at a level above what they would “naturally” do. So it would be bribery to pay a student money to enroll in an AP course and pass the exam; it’s not bribery to offer financial rewards for students who were going to take the AP anyway but who then do well on it.

    The data on AP math testing show that the number of students taking AP calculus (AB and BC) as well as AP Statistics has been growing exponentially for many years. Students don’t need bribes to simply take AP courses or the exam. But that 15% level (can’t remember what the passing rate is for calculus or stats) indicates that incentives to raise the level of performance currently underway might not hurt.

  10. Indigo Warrior says:

    It frustrates me that American educators seem to be so anti-education, anti-hard-work – and anti-talent.

    Its better if students without the proper “will to education” be forced out of schools rather than be forced to stay in. Some of these have picked up such bad work habits in the playpen (or even the womb) that they will never amount to anything no matter how much money is wasted on them.

    Modern educators have an ideological drive to separate children from home and family, even if such children learn nothing from such “education”, and are harmed by it.

  11. wayne martin says:

    > From non-educators, we educators tend to hear fairly often
    > that if we only ran schools more like a business, things
    > would be so much better.

    Yes.

    > In the business world, money is used as an incentive –
    > whether it’s for things employees should do as part of their job
    > (stay there more than three months or a year) or something
    > which is above the average (sell a certain amount in a short
    > time period).

    It’s a shame that educators are required to take courses in: Mathematics, History, Finance, Business, Marketing, Sales and Municipal/Education Financing—as most educators seem to be looking at the real world thru a very blurry bubble.

    Money is used in the business world to: 1) pay for salaries and benefits, 2) pay for plant building/maintenance, operations costs, such as power , water, and telecommunications 3) raw materials for manufacturing purposes. Occasionally money is used to provide incentives for people (bonuses) when they perform above expectation. But this money is an investment in people will typically put in extra hours (up to 7 days a week/12 hours a day/on-site) to finish a project that is needed to produce “INCOME”. The “INCOME” is cycled back into the business as outlined above. Salesmen are actually the most critical employees in a company—because they are the only people that can bring in “INCOME”–which is needed to pay the bills. Commissions (or bonuses) are absolutely necessary to get these folks to work at their absolute maximum. Yes, you can always fire a non-performing salesman—but if the company is out-of-business because of his failure to perform … well .. the dismissal letter won’t be worth writing.

    Hiring bonuses have become common in some industries. Some of this is because the quality of applicants is so bad that businesses are pulling their hair out and outsourcing to other countries for talent. One posting recently pointed out that only 27% of people applying for the Military were meeting the standards. My local police department claims that they can only accept one in a hundred, and this acceptance rate is typical of other departments in the region. (Just how much education or “talent” do you need to write parking tickets, drink coffee and eat donuts?)

    > Yet, when business practices are applied to education and money
    > is used as an incentive for something students should do – take
    > advanced classes – and yet is also above average (AP classes are
    > college-level courses given at the high school level), somehow,
    > it is still a sign that something is wrong with education.

    Students are not “employees”. So that particular parallel might not apply. But as pointed out earlier, society is giving ever student a $200,000-$300,000 education so that he/she will be ready to go to college and study for the final chapter of their lives—“the real world”. What part of a “300,000” inducement don’t “educators” get? All of the it, apparently.

    Running a school more like a business means lifting the shackles of the unions. Get rid of Davis-Bacon, using Management Information System intelligently, create a state-wide network for schools to communicate with district offices and state offices, adopt a state-wide software package for HR software, adopt a state-wide software package for all in-house functions that are currently being performed by hand (such as publishing an annual budget). Outsource maintenance functions to non-union labor sources, where it makes financial sense. I could go on, but hopefully the point is made with what is written so far.

    There’s a lot more to running a school district than most teachers know anything about.

    > And we’re asked, suspiciously, if WE really want to improve
    > education or if there’s some other selfish agenda
    > we’re promoting.

    I really don’t understand this comment. Care to clarify?

  12. Actually the passing rate for AP math courses are over 60%.

  13. Isn’t it in the corporate self-interest of Exxon — who is bankrolling the incentive money — to increase the potential pool of engineers, scientists, mathematicians, etc.?

    Should they be prohibited?
    Should the schools or the students refuse this money on principle?

    Yes, it would be better if all of our children appreciated all the money we spend for them to go to public schools.

    Yawn….

  14. If you take a look at the program this is modeled after in Texas, what the $250 is particularly good for, is encouraging kids who would not otherwise take an AP class–low-income and minority students–to take a risk and enroll. While Robert is correct that a large group of students don’t need a bribe to take AP courses, these students *do* need a tangible incentive (and, frankly, their schools do as well, as many don’t do what they should to encourage those kids to enroll). The results in Texas have been pretty compelling: an astonishing number of passing AP scores in Calculus for African-American students come from this program alone. That success has ripple effects – students who take an AP course have a much better success/persistence rate in college. There’s lots of talk about how to close the achievement gap and get minority students performing at the highest levels, but precious few good models…this is one that I think is worth replicating.

  15. wayne martin says:

    > Isn’t it in the corporate self-interest of Exxon to
    > increase the potential pool of engineers, scientists,
    > mathematicians, etc.?

    Yes, but this is probably not the best use of their money. Exxon would be far better off to identify promising HS seniors/College Freshmen and sign them up to work for Exxon for some period of time after graduation. Exxon would them pay some/all of their tuition, offer them a summer intern positions for their college years, where both the company and the individual would get a change to evaluate each other.
    Exxon is sort of special, since a lot of their work is in the outback .. which can be a bit of a shock to “collitch kids” who have spent most of their lives in an urban environment. Getting out into the field can be very exciting, but it also can be a place that is isolated and not very interesting to “city folks”.

    > Should they be prohibited?

    Of course not. How silly.

    > Should the schools or the students refuse this money on principle?

    Well, schools rarely walk away from OPM (Other People’s Money).

    > Yes, it would be better if all of our children
    > appreciated all the money we spend for
    > them to go to public schools.

    > Yawn….

    Are you bored with this idea that teachers have an obligation to teach kids about society’s investment in their education, and how this investment is a part of the so-called “social contract”? If this “generation” is not willing to do the work, then maybe the “last” generation might think about other places to put its money.

  16. No, I don’t care to clarify right now. It’s enough to have inspired you to write so much in a response.
    Methinks thou dost …

  17. Wayne Martin, you ask whether I am bored with the idea that teachers have an obligation to teach kids about society’s investment in their education, and how this investment is a part of the so-called “social contract.”

    No, I am not bored with the idea that teachers have an obligation to teach kids about society’s investment in their education, and how this investment is a part of the so-called “social contract.”

    My students might get bored at me ranting about such matters but I am rather merciless in my periodic diatribes….

    No, Wayne, what I am bored with is the assumptions that get made about teenagers. That, for instance, because Exxon is willing to pay this incentive that somehow the teenagers collecting them are extorting this poor, helpless corporation; that they just don’t appreciate their education. No, some — perhaps most — of them don’t. I don’t recall having much appreciation when I was in high school thirty years ago. My father, who was in high school 70 years ago didn’t really appreciate it either.

    One of the things I’ve learned over the years as a teacher is that the things we teach them sometimes need a lot of time to sink in. I know this because I’ve been told by former students three or five or even ten years later…. A former student once told me that he used to hear the voices of our principal, me, and another teacher in his head yelling at him while he was serving a prison sentence and that those voices helped him wise up and turn his life around when he got out.

    These teenagers — the ones taking the AP exam — their worldviews are not reshaped by receiving a check for a few hundred dollars. They aren’t going to come to expect it for every subsequent accomplishment.

    They aren’t stupid.

  18. wayne martin says:

    > .. because Exxon is willing to pay this incentive that somehow
    > the teenagers collecting them are extorting this poor, helpless
    > corporation;

    I don’t read that sentiment in this thread. The main thrust of the criticism of this topic was that students are failing to appreciate the value of their education in terms of their futures, and that a $250 inducement is not likely to be as important as having a reasonable understanding of why “education” is important to them and their futures—which should be a part of the education process.

    Exxon is taking a tax write-off for these donations, so it’s not being “exploited”.

    > that they just don’t appreciate their education.
    > No, some — perhaps most — of them don’t.
    > I don’t recall having much appreciation when
    > I was in high school thirty years ago. My father,
    > who was in high school 70 years ago didn’t really
    > appreciate it either.

    And why not? I accept that your experiences that some students don’t appreciate their high school education until later in life. I really didn’t appreciate my time in the military until I looked back at it more than a decade later. It went by so fast, and I was so engaged, that there wasn’t time to think about what I was doing, or what it meant.

    My sense is that those families where the parents are highly engaged with their children’s education the students will appreciate their high school experience/education. This leads us back to why vocational tracks have been eliminated for those students not likely to go on to college? If high school provided them meaningful education, perhaps their appreciation would be different.

    As we see from these reports from the CSU (and CC) schools in California, a disturbingly high number of students not only don’t appreciate their high school experience/education, but they also either failed to absorb it, or it was not provided to them by “the system”:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/13/BABADIGEST2.DTL

    Nearly 40 percent of freshmen entering the California State University system in 2006 were not ready for college-level mathematics and 45 percent of incoming freshmen were not ready for college-level English, according to a report being presented today to the CSU Board of Trustees.

    This is not a new story, since it began to hit the papers in the mid-90s. Yet, the problem has not been solved, or even mitigated to any great extent. It’s doubtful that paying these students to take AP classes will change this situation.

  19. —–The main thrust of the criticism of this topic was that students are failing to appreciate the value of their education in terms of their futures, and that a $250 inducement is not likely to be as important as having a reasonable understanding of why “education” is important to them and their futures—which should be a part of the education process.

    Which is a nice ideal but, as I said, such appreciation often comes later in life. Also, it cuts both ways: a lot of students I’ve encountered do appreciate quality instruction. But, yes, there are others who do not appreciate their education enough to bother to attend school much of the time…..

    Sorry if I misinterpreted objections to Exxon’s incentives. Perhaps I am overly sensitive to teenager-bashing (perhaps to the point where I sometimes imagine it)….

    ———–It’s doubtful that paying these students to take AP classes will change this situation [the failure of so many to be ready for college level English and math].

    Actually, students are being paid to PASS the AP exam, not just take the class. These tests are quite difficult — more difficult, in some cases, than actually taking the college courses they replace (at least at some colleges). The AP English Language and Lit exams require students to answer about 50 mult choice questions in an hour, then write three compelling essays, based on prompts — at least two of which require reading a passage — in two hours. I suspect that a lot of educated adults would have difficulty with many of the AP exams.

    It is quite a bit beyond what the average high school student is required to do.

    As for the CSU remediation problem, I agree that it is shameful. 13 years ought to be enough time to teach children how to read and write and calculate at a college level.

    I’m not sure how much of that can be attributed to student lack of appreciation for their education. I’ve had students who worked very hard for four years and made great progress and seemed to value their education but still — usually because they had only learned English fairly recently — needed more time to get ready for college, and I’ve had students who had little appreciation for anything but easily passed those CSU proficiency tests…. Still, your suggestion that college-readiness could be an indication of how much a student values his education, is probably a valid one.

Trackbacks