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Opening Arguments

Paid for the grade

Even before we start weighing pros and cons, this seems like a bad idea:

Students at a southern Indiana high school are learning that hard work really does pay off.

That's because they're being rewarded with cash for good grades.

At Jeffersonville High School, students are paid $100 for every advanced placement test they pass.

The school is one of nine selected to split a $7 million grant from the Indiana Department of Education.

That's $7 million of our tax dollars to reward students for doing what they should be doing anyway. This goes against research in psychology showing that extrinisc rewards can undermine intrinsic motivation. Students start trying for the money and forget they should be learning for other reasons. It seems especially wrongheaded to take this approach with AP students, who are supposed to be the best and brightest and, one would assume, most highly motivated.



Tue, 04/17/2012 - 10:15am

I'm also surprized. The AP kids are, by definition, headed for college. I was grateful for the extra bit of college credit I got for passing the AP English exam. If the kids aren't trying, why are they in AP?

But I do understand the frustration. Mrs. littlejohn teaches in a Bad School. Some of her kids won't even fill in the answers on standardized tests unless she bribes them with bits of junk food, paid for out of our household budget.

Her alternative is to let them fail, which gets her labeled a Bad Teacher. Her employment and pay hinge on how well her students do on these tests. The kids have no intention of graduating or even looking for employment. But they're hungry. Or maybe it's just the munchies.