Paying for grades

Paying low-income students to earn a C average at community college raises  attendance and grades, concludes a MDRC study. Times reports:

The program for low-income parents, funded by the Louisiana Department of Social Services and the Louisiana Workforce Commission, was simple: enroll in college at least half-time, maintain at least a C average and earn $1,000 a semester for up to two terms. Participants, who were randomly selected, were 30% more likely to register for a second semester than were students who were not offered the supplemental financial aid.

After the two-year program ended, participants were more likely to take college classes than those who received no incentives.

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  1. When the facts contradict your expectations, believe the facts. And if the program does what it’s designed to do, great.

    Now we have to determine if there’s value in continuing in college.

  2. Stacy in NJ says:

    At what point should individuals be responsible for self-motivation?

  3. John Drake says:

    According to Democrats? Never.

  4. Andromeda says:

    With the population in question here, I don’t think self-motivation is the issue. The CC students I’ve known or heard about often have severe financial issues staying in school; the phenomenon here might be less “incentivizing people to study” and more “enabling them to work fewer hours and stress less about money but still be able to afford school”. $1000 makes a really big difference relative to community college tuition. I think this is getting at a different phenomenon than the similar studies among high school kids.

  5. I think $1000 should get something better than a C average. If they have to work, so skip a semester and work. But if you’re getting paid $1000 to earn a lousy C, you’re not going to do any more work than you have to.

  6. Margo/Mom says:

    For a student who is living/working at subsistence level, the issue is not skipping a semester to work. The issue is being able to eat (and be clothed and sheltered) as well as study.

  7. I wish that people wouldn’t denigrate the C as a ‘lousy’ grade – it’s supposed to represent average performance. Most students will, by definition, be average. If an award is intended to reward or acknowledge excellent performance, its fine to set a higher standard. If the goal is to encourage average students to complete a program (be it at a CC or one of those state scholarships intended to support average students) then setting the standard at higher than a C leads to grade inflation.

  8. A C is average. If you’re spending my tax dollars to reward “average”, then why would anyone work harder to do better? I think this is crap. I worked my way through an Ivy, and no one gave me a stipend, a reward or anything but a big loan bill at the end.