NYC ends cash-for-behavior experiment

New York City will drop a privately funded program that paid low-income families for good behavior, such as “taking their children to the dentist, sending them to school regularly, and holding a full-time job,” reports Ed Week. High school students could earn $600 for passing a high school Regents exam.

In its first two years, the program produced “modest” effects,” concluded a study, which compared participants to a control group. From the New York Times:

. . . Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pointed to a few examples of success: High school students who met basic proficiency standards before high school tended to increase their attendance, receive more class credits and perform better on standardized tests; more families went to the dentist for regular checkups.

But the elementary and middle school students who participated made no educational or attendance gains. Neither did high school students who performed below basic proficiency standards before high school.

Two thirds of the participating high school students score below the basic level.

In two years, more than $14 million was paid to 2,400 low-income families, who averaged more than $6,000 a year in rewards. A follow-up study will look at whether positive changes will continue once the rewards go away.

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  1. Case Management must have been ignored or extremely poorly executed. If I were the funder, I would be furious. The results certainly run counter to positive expectations. However, if parents were monitored/counseled and the results were as shown, then …… Hmmmm.

  2. The point of the experiment was to see if economic incentives alone would improve outcomes, not to see if social work would improve outcomes.

  3. So, is anyone up for the irony of exploring the value of financial incentives for the non-professionals while recoiling with horror at the idea of financial incentives for the professionals?


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JoanneLeeJacobs. JoanneLeeJacobs said: New blog post: NYC ends cash-for-behavior experiment […]

  2. […] parents for such things as school attendance, trips to the dentist and working full-time. Effects were “modest,” a study found. The Family Rewards program was misconceived, writes City Journal’s Heather Mac […]