New York City may start paying students for high test scores, reports the New York Times.
Across the country, educators have been experimenting with cash incentives. A program in Chelsea, Mass., gave children $25 for perfect attendance. Some Dallas schools pay children $2 for each book they read.
But the idea is controversial. Many educators maintain, among other objections, that children have to learn for the love of it, not for cash.
New York’s Mayor Bloomberg has proposed “giving cash to poor adults to encourage them to do everything from keeping their children in school to seeking preventive medical care.” He’s interested in paying students.
Economist Roland Fryer proposes paying fourth graders at least $5 and as much as $25 for scores on a standardized test that will be introduced in the fall; seventh graders could get as much as $50. Each participating school would receive $5,000. Private donors would have to provide the money.
On Critical Mass, Erin O’Connor is dubious about the idea.
It does seem to imply that building academic skills has no intrinsic value. And it’s sure to whet students’ appetite for more payments. That said, I have no problem with putting money in a scholarship fund in the name of students who earn good scores on standardized tests.
I won a gold cup for perfect attendance in fourth grade. OK, it was plastic. My teacher had won it in a dance contest at the Hotel Fontainebleu in Miami Beach. I cherished it.