Paying cash to students and their teachers for passing scores on Advanced Placement tests is boosting achievement in Texas, writes C. Kirabo Jackson in Education Next. The Advanced Placement Incentive Program (APIP) “results in a 30 percent increase in the number of students scoring above 1100 on the SAT or above 24 on the ACT, and an 8 percent increase in the number of students at a high school who enroll in a college or university in Texas.”
My evidence suggests that these outcomes are likely the result of stronger encouragement from teachers and guidance counselors to enroll in AP courses, better information provided to students, and changes in teacher and peer norms. The program is not associated with improved high school graduation rates or increases in the number of students taking college entrance exams, suggesting that the APIP improves the outcomes of high-achieving students rather than those students who may not have graduated from high school or even applied to college.
In New York City, students are receiving big bucks for scoring well on AP tests, reports the New York Times. REACH spends more than APIP: Students can get $1,000 for a 5, which is the top score, $750 for a 4 and $500 for a 3. In the first year of the privately funded experiment, more students tackled AP exams, but slightly fewer earned passing scores.
New York City also is paying middle school students for higher test scores. Results will be released in October.
Update: Bribing students is a bad idea whether it boosts scores or not, argues Liam Julian.