Monday, March 15, 2010

Get Paid For AP (Participation Post)

A recent study says that offering cash for academic success leads to more student effort.

Read the Washington Post article below and then make a participation post in the comments. You should answer two questions: Would a monetary reward make you study harder for the AP exam? Should parents or schools offer a cash reward of, say, $500 for a passing grade? Note that the two questions are separate. You might study harder if cash was offered and still believe that offering cash is a bad policy. Or your study habits might be immune to the bribe but you think it should be offered if it might motivate other students.

Article reprinted for educational purposes:

Incentives Can Make Or Break Students
Ethical Issues Come With Gains on Tests

By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 2, 2008

The inducements range from prepaid cellphones to MP3 players to gift certificates. But most of them are cash: $10 for New York City seventh-graders who complete a periodic test; $50 for Chicago high school freshmen who ace their courses; as much as $110 to Baltimore students for improved scores on the Maryland High School Assessments.

Desperate for ways to ratchet up test scores and close the achievement gap separating white and minority students, school officials from Tucson to Boston are paying kids who put up good numbers.

The District joined the list this fall, launching a one-year study of 3,300 middle schoolers who can earn up to $100 every two weeks for good grades, behavior and attendance. On Oct. 17, the first payday for the Capital Gains program, students collected an average of $43.

The efforts vary widely in scope and objective. But nearly all trigger passionate arguments about the wisdom of monetizing academic achievement.

Critics denounce the initiatives as bribery and say the money could be better invested in ideas known to work, such as smaller class size. They also point to a body of psychological research suggesting that tangible rewards can erode children's intrinsic motivation. DePaul University education professor Ronald Chennault says there are ethical issues posed by the ventures, most of which are experimental and dependent on private funding and local political support.

"The potential for harm is, what happens after the incentive no longer exists?" Chennault asked. "Not everything is worth trying."

Capital Gains has emerged as an issue in this fall's at-large D.C. Council races. At an education forum last week, candidate Patrick Mara said he was "completely disgusted" by the idea at first but is now willing to see how it works. Incumbent Carol Schwartz said she never would have proposed such a plan but doesn't object. Incumbent Kwame R. Brown and challenger David Schwartzman are opposed, with Brown echoing Chennault's concerns about what happens when awards disappear.

Proponents, who include Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, assert that the initiatives are a modest attempt to give children from low-income families a taste of the rewards, formal and informal, that kids from well-off backgrounds have enjoyed for years.

"Wealthy parents in the suburban area, they give their kids a car. They take them on a trip to Hawaii. They send them around the world," Daley told reporters last month at the launch of the city's "Green for Grades" project. "These kids don't even get out of their homes for many, many years."

Although a flurry of incentive programs have started up in the past year, the idea is as old as gold stars. Some school systems have had cash initiatives in place for years. So what difference do they make?

The evidence, not surprisingly, is murky. Even the apparent success stories come with caveats and qualifications.

For the past 12 years, a Dallas nonprofit group, Advanced Placement Strategies, has targeted more than 100 Texas high schools with predominantly minority and low-income students, offering up to $500 for top scores on AP tests in English, math and science. A new study by Cornell University economist Kirabo Jackson found that the program produced a sizable increase in the number of juniors and seniors taking AP or International Baccalaureate exams. Jackson also linked higher SAT and ACT scores to the effort.

But the Texas initiative also rewarded teachers, with annual bonuses of up to $10,000. Gregg Fleisher, former head of Advanced Placement Strategies, said instructors are "the missing big variable" in a lot of incentive programs.

"When you address student-only incentives, you only attack half the issue," said Fleisher, who is working to replicate the Texas strategy in 67 schools across six states, including Virginia, this fall for the National Math and Science Initiative, founded in 2005 with a $125 million grant from ExxonMobil to improve math and science education.

A new New York program inspired by the Texas effort but that does not give cash incentives to teachers has not fared as well. The privately funded Rewarding Achievement offered up to $1,000 to students at 31 high schools for high AP test scores. More than 340 additional students took the tests this year, but the number who passed dipped slightly. Collective bargaining agreements in New York sharply restrict incentive pay for teachers.

Researchers say the commitment of all adults is essential to student reward programs. A Stanford University study of 186 charter schools with incentives showed a "consistent impact" averaging four percentile points on reading scores. The report, released in May, said the stronger and more enthusiastic the staff and parents, the larger the gains.

Some programs seem to reinforce concerns about the consequences of withdrawing the incentives.

Since 2005, the small central Ohio town of Coshocton has given half of its third- through sixth-graders "Coshocton Kid Bucks" -- gift certificates redeemable at businesses -- for good scores on state exams.

The only significant gains were in math scores, according to Superintendent David Hire. More tellingly, scores of students who were deemed eligible through a lottery one year but ineligible the next fell.

Detractors also point to research on the corrosive quality of tangible rewards on student motivation. In one study, University of Rochester psychologist Edward L. Deci gave two groups of college students building-block puzzles to work on. One group got $1 for every puzzle solved; the other received nothing. When Deci said the experiment was over and encouraged everyone to relax, those getting the money were more likely to abandon the puzzles.

In 2001, Deci and three colleagues published an analysis of 128 studies on the effects of tangible rewards, concluding that they "do significantly and substantially undermine intrinsic motivation." This was especially true, they said, for young children.

The District's Capital Gains project is part of what is likely to be the most influential study of cash incentives for kids. It is led by Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr., who has also set up the incentive programs in New York and Chicago, with the help of the Broad Foundation as part of a larger effort to bring the rigor of private research and development to educational issues.

Each program is designed to study different sets of inducements for various age groups.

Freshmen and sophomores at 20 Chicago high schools get $50 for each A in a five-week marking period, $35 for a B and $20 for a C. An F negates any cash reward for a given period. Half of all student earnings are withheld until graduation.

New York's Spark program, now in its second year, focuses on fourth- and seventh-graders at 59 city schools. Younger students get $5 for completing each of 10 periodic tests; seventh-graders get $10.

Fryer said he will be the first to call for abandoning cash incentives if they are shown to have no significant impact.

"This is not a silver bullet," he said during a recent visit to the District. "But it's better than sitting around and doing nothing."

Shelontae Carter is not quite as sure. Carter, whose son Christian is an eighth-grader at Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School, said she's willing to try Capital Gains but sees numerous potential pitfalls: resentment from kids whose grades or behavior don't earn them much, parents who claim the money for themselves.

"I don't know if it's going to be good for very long down the road," she said. "I know that when you give rewards, it can go both ways."

Research director Lucy Shackelford and staff writer Nikita Stewart contributed to this report.


  1. I feel that excepting money for grades is like being rewarded for something you should already be doing. It seems that getting money for good grades isn't exactly right, especially if it is from the people that are actually teaching your. Do I think it would boost incentive in students? of course it would. People will always be more interested if there is a cash reward involved. That being said, the schools should not be wasting their money on something like this. Use the money for something more productive, like Tueting's salary

  2. I would not study harder for an exam I would get paid for, because as it is, I will be doing as much studying as I can to improve all my AP scores, and for me, learning in itself is enough, but cash would be nice to get as a recognition of that. Secondly, I do not think it is right to pay students for test scores because learning should be a life-long habit rather than a first "job", only to be replaced when other wage earning opportunities arise.

  3. I think that offering incentives for doing well on AP tests would help, but getting a good score should be enough of a reward because it could save you a ton of money in college. I personally would not study more, but I think that offering incentives would improve test scores as a whole. People respond to incentives, especially cash, and offering money for better test scores would probably help to a certain extent. Even so, I am not in favor of offering incentives.

  4. I think that if I got a monetary reward for getting good scores on tests, I would probably study harder, but I already feel that I study as hard as I can/ want to. It would be nice if we got money for grades, but what about kids who don't have homes and parents who advocate education/ help with homework and studying. Isn't it kind of unfair for those kids who are economically and sociologically at a disadvantage? I wonder if monetary rewards would also increase the benefits of cheating on tests and exams, etc. I mean, some kids might study harder, but I'm sure others would just look for ways to cheat to get free money... So I don't think money for grades is a very good idea (unless research proves that this actually works well).

  5. I would probably not really study any harder throughout the year or for the exam were I given monetary rewards for my good grades. Nor would I feel good about taking the money. I try to get good grades because a good grade means more to me than money. I do believe that issuing monetary rewards would increase testing scores but I don't believe it's a good idea. It installs poor morals for later in life.

  6. Obviously, a money reward would motivate any student to study harder for a test. So yes, if there was a cash reward involved I would study more for the AP exam. However, that studying would get out of hand because of a goal of the money. I do not think that money should be offered for good scores on AP exams or for six weeks grades. I do think that teachers should receive higher pay for their students who do well on state or AP exams. That way, teachers might be able to make a living on teaching and they would feel concerned about their kids' learning (not that they don't already).

  7. While this idea sounds wonderful, believe me I would love to get paid, I would have to say I would oppose this idea. It would incentive cheating ,why should I try at all at the beginning of the year if I will get paid more to improve, or just simply cheating on every test. Also by paying kids to show up everyday, we would incentive kids not to stay home when they are sick; possibly leading to school-wide and city-wide outbreaks of illnesses. If these problems were to somehow be eliminated or regulated in a way that they cease to be a problem, then more important questions become evident. Where are we getting the money to pay for these kids? Why does a middle schooler need $100 every two weeks? What could they possibly be spending that money on? Would all classes get paid the same? If not, then this isn’t promoting learning for the sake of learning; an important thing in my opinion. I see our schools struggling financially already and having to lay teachers off and end some classes. I can’t possibly imagine schools being able to have funding for enough money to pay kids to do what they are suppose to in the first place. If the kid feels unrewarded or has trouble seeing the benefit of coming to school everyday, then I would say lets show them the harshness of life. Let them see what it is like to scavenge for your next meal in a landfill. Show them the war torn regions where uneducated kids are kidnapped into a violent war and impending death. Teach them how in other countries the bosses take advantage of uneducated people by deceiving them into life-binding contracts. Maybe then they would appreciate free compulsory schooling.
    Personally money would not motivate me any more than my friends and myself. I believe strongly in the sake of learning for just the sake of learning it; yes I don’t like every subject and at time dread coming to school, but I still at the end of the day can say at least I will be educated.

  8. Well like Mr. Tueting told me in class I'm "lazy and unmotivated," but if there was to be a monetary reward I would try harder for sure. If there was something more tangible than just a grade that I could get out of a good score, then I would be motivated to try harder.
    I also think that parents or schools should offer a cash incentive. It is obvious that if students try harder, and the cash is there, then you should have it as a program. It could really help some kids get out and study hard.

  9. I would definitely work harder for money. $200 is much more appealing than the possibility of getting into a better college in several years. It shouldn't be, but realistically, it's easier for someone who lives in the here-and-now to be motivated by quick money than by the future. Whereas now I might be able to tell myself "The cumulative grade is what counts; you can ignore your grade this six weeks," if I was getting paid, it'd be much harder.
    Paying students to study, however, is a bad decision from the government's standpoint, especially in a recession. Thanks to No Child Left Behind, the purpose of school is to make everyone "good enough." Paying AP students for the AP Exam would do little, if anything, to help the schools achieve this ultimate goal. Currently, teachers and arts are being cut in order to keep the schools afloat, and dishing out money would require more cuts that are undesirable. The goal of the school is to equip students with a solid education, not to bribe the upper-level students to explore their limits.

  10. Any student would work hard to get a good grade for money. Thats a given. I would love to get money for my good grades, but I dont think that it is right for people to stuy to get good grades so they can have the money. Why would you reward someone who should be trying their best anyways? But if this is a way to get kids to study harder i guess it could work though i dont agree with it.

  11. If I had the option to get paid if I did well on a test I would certainly study harder and prepare myself more in order to do well. However I do not think it’s a good idea because then you would have students who are not necessarily academically prepared for the workload or vast amount of knowledge needed to take AP classes trying to take AP classes in order to get extra money.

  12. As genius as this idea sounds, in all honesty, I don't think it would change my study habits. This is not to say that I would be against a $1,000 dollar payday for cranking out good grades, but I can't say that I think it is a good idea. While it's certainly nice to be rewarded for working hard, what about self-motivation? To some degree, I think this system would reinforce the idea that endeavors and achievements without rewards are worthless. I don't think that's a positive thing to be teaching kids. What happens when life requires them to make sacrifices and take on commitments that will go unnoticed and unrecognized? This system has the potential to be effective, but I cannot help but wonder at the consequences.

  13. I would for sure study harder for the AP exam if i knew that there was some serious cash involved. Since there will be students who will study for ages before the exam even without a monetary reward, they might as well get the slightly lesser motivated kids with busy schedules who otherwise would not study as much to study more by bribing them with money. You can go into the argument of how that is a waste of money that is needed elsewhere, and i agree with that point. so if the argument is made against paying students for passing the AP, i think it should be on that basis rather than the fact that students should want to succeed without being paid.

  14. I don't understand. Why would kids need to be motivated by money if they were in an AP program? Isn't that the point of an AP program, to further enhance your learning because a) you're motivated or b) you want a good resume for college? I can see the incentive the government has if they're trying to support those who might have bad living situations that do not promote education, and considering that it might help those kids out, it's a good thing. But when you apply it to an AP program where kids SHOULD be self-motivated and inherently interested, it doesn't make sense. I don't think it's a good idea in general, especially in an AP program, and it probably wouldn't make me study harder. However, when it is given as an incentive for kids in certain areas, it is more reasonable. This is the wrong way of going about it though; rather than give everyone a cash prize, if the government wanted to give kids a monetary incentive, they should make a contest at the end of the year or something, for kids to work towards as a prize, rather than something that they take for granted. Education is not a job, and it should not be viewed as something that can be taken for granted or just a way to make money, but something that is good and interesting and other happy adjectives.

  15. I think paying people to get good grades isn't a new idea. I've talked to many friends who get paid for A's. Personally, my parents expect good grades for me so when I get A's, I get a pat on the back. I don't think paying students for good grades is a smart idea. If kids don't have goals that they set themselves, then they won't have strong motivations for anything. Also, paying kids to make good grades only gives them a reason to work for money, not for the satisfaction of accomplishing something. Their goals will be based on money. True, paying students to do well on the AP exams would spark a studying frenzy for many, but you see a decrease in the self motivation of students. So, I don't think paying students to go well on the exams is a good idea because it negatively effects the students.

  16. School is like a job that you don't get paid for. Even so, offering money for good test grades isn't right, especially for AP students. AP students generally are the type of people who learn just because they want to and the good grades and college credits are enough of a reward. We already get paid with practically free college courses and paying the students who score well on the AP test is a waste of money. The money should be going to the lower level students, not the already college bound and middle-class students.

  17. If i were given $500 i would study harder. It is human nature to react to a reward. It is more encouraging. At the high school level, kids are always looking for ways to make some money. However, i don't think that that every good grade should be rewarded. AP classes are much harder and require a lot of time from the students. If AP students are the ones getting paid i don't mind. But if some kid in a regular class is getting paid that would piss me off. Parents giving money to kids is their choice. It will encourage the kids and feel appreciated. If i go home and tell my dad that i got a 99% on a final, he will say were is the other 1%. It would be a good change. But one thing that has to be taken into consideration is that not everyone is capable of rewarded their kids, schools or parents.

  18. Personally, a monetary reward wouldn't make me study harder for the AP exam. Concerning those tests, I have enough non-monetary motivation (mostly just pride and college). Unless we're talking about a HUGE monetary reward (an unrealistic amount over $1000), I'm not going to study harder. I have other (and frankly, BETTER) things to do.

    But I'm not opposed to monetary rewards for passing grades. It wouldn't affect me too much. I'm an intrinsically motivated learner; as the son of two teachers, I was raised that way. But this topic always makes me consider kids who really just don't care about school and their grades. This system could provide tangible results for kids who choose to do well for cash and other rewards. These are often kids who live in poverty, and it's not far-fetched to say the money could actually be used for things they NEED. And we're talking about kids who have no intrinsic motivations to succeed academically. It's largely a matter of how they are raised (making poverty cyclic in its nature). At least these rewards would provide SOME kind of motivation to succeed. And in an increasingly competitive world, we might need as many kids as possible to succeed. When China could rival us as a superpower, means be damned. I mean, really, if money become the engine of the American education system, it wouldn't be a great leap forward. We already live in an ultracapitalistic society. Our stock markets, businesses, banks, industries, and horrid consumerism all point to that. If we really don't want money to be the center of kids' lives, we should change our culture as a whole.

  19. A monetary reward would not make me study harder for the AP exam unless that reward was ridiculously huge. For me, the college credit is enough incentive to study for the AP exam. I don't think schools should offer rewards for good grades. The grade is the reward for hard work. There doesn't need to be a reward for a reward. As for parents, they can do what they want. That's their decision whether they want to reward their kids with money because of good grades.

  20. AP classes are about challenging yourself, earning college credit and showing colleges how much pressure you can take. As it is, you pay 80 dollars for college credit if you get a 4 or a 5 on the exam. At a normal college this would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. If you study hard and you get the credit, you just saved a lot of money. If that isnt enough, then you can spend the extra money for it in college.

  21. AP classes are for you to get college credit, boost your GPA, compete with other students, and show colleges how much stress you can handle. AP tests cost about 80 dollars. College courses cost anywhere in the realm of hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you study hard enough and get a high enough score for college credit, you will have saved A LOT of money. If that is not enough of a reason to take AP, then pay for it all in college. If you were smart, you would take AP classes without whining about it. They are worth it!

  22. AP classes are for you to get college credit, boost your GPA, compete with other students, and show colleges how much stress you can handle. AP tests cost about 80 dollars. College courses cost anywhere in the realm of hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you study hard enough and get a high enough score for college credit, you will have saved A LOT of money. If that is not enough of a reason to take AP, then pay for it all in college. If you were smart, you would take AP classes without whining about it. They are worth it!

  23. I would study harder if I was given money for a passing AP Exam grade. Honestly, I think those who say they wouldn't are kidding themselves. We are teenagers! Most of us who are serious in an AP class do not have time to get jobs during the school year so a cash incentive would help alleviate my being broke.
    As for whether they should pay us or not: give us the money that the test cost. Only $86 a test but it is just enough. Either my parents would take the money back and the guilt of having to ask for it removed or I would have an extra $86 per passing test.

  24. I think that I would study just as much as I would if I didn't receive money for the AP test. But i do think that offering money as an award would motivate a lot more people to take AP classes. And that is not necessarily a good thing. They would take them before they are ready or even worse just take the really easy AP classes. Or at least the rumored to be easy. So i think it would be unfair and a bad idea to offer money as an award, just getting a good grade in the class is rewarding enough for most.


Questions? Comments? Bueller? Bueller?