Merit Pay for Kids and Parents

Discussion in 'General Education' started by KinderCowgirl, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    We have a new Super who has grand plans for improving the numbers in our district. Some things I agree with, however, some I really do not. This is one of the new initiatives-the money will come from a grant:

    Students in 25 elementary schools will be paid for each of the 200 fifth-grade math objectives they master. The program will include incentives for parents based on their child’s mastery of the math objectives and on their attendance at teacher conferences. Each 5th grade student and his or her parents at the 25 schools will have an opportunity to earn up to $1020 over the school year. Students can earn $2 for every math objective they
    master and parents will also receive $2 for every math concept completed. In addition, parents will receive $20 for every parent meeting they attend. Students can earn a maximum of $440 and
    parents can earn a maximum of $580.​


    Is it just me, or is this ridiculous? I'm not much of a believer in extrinsic rewards for learning anyway-but what an example to set. Well, I'll do the work now, since you'll pay me for it. I just think it's really short-sighted and might raise test scores, but won't do anything for motivating kids to really learn in the long run. What happens the following year when there's no payment for learning?:confused:
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:
     
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    What happens to children who do not have the capacity to master every objective? They get less money, right? So Suzy whose parents are always involved get more than Johnny whose single mom has to work every other evening. Suzy who has help at home and probably would master most of them on her own gets a nice little addition to her college fund while Johnny sits there and sees what he does NOT get.
     
  5. SunnyReader

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    special education students receive no money for a great attempt?
     
  6. Kate Change

    Kate Change Companion

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    I agree this is a terrible idea! Our job is to teach children, but not against their will and that of their parents! I especially think it's rediculous to bribe parents to be involved in the school life. I think it would work in my community, but you shouldn't have to pay people to be involved in their child's education. They are supposed to care more about their own children than we do!
     
  7. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    Wow! I don't even know how to respond to that, it's so absurd.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    On first sight I too found this initiative crass; I have never been a proponent of paying for grades. One guesses, however, that this initiative is not intended for schools in neighborhoods where parents have the means to offer their children $50 for each A (or whatever the going rate now is in better-off communities). So what if the payment to parents is seen not as a bribe but as a means to help cover the cost of babysitting and/or busfare or to cushion a little the economic impact of taking time off from a job?

    More disturbing to me than the idea of paying for participation are these two implications: first, that all parents who do not attend their children's conferences are simply too lazy to bother; second, that certain children - including the children of single parents - are just plain doomed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    WOW!!

    When I think of all the really great things they could do with that money!!!

    And the kids who don't do well in a school setting-- this is just one more way to make them feel dumb.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I agree that it's ham-handed - but it IS an attempt to increase parent participation, and there seems to be a consensus on A to Z that teachers should not be held accountable for student outcomes in the absence of support at home.

    So here's a challenge: if not this way to increase parent participation, then what?
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Good question TG.

    And we've got to agree that not all (probably not even "most") parents who don't paricipate do so as an active choice.

    Some simply don't know better.
    And some are desperately trying to keep all those balls in the air without dropping any.

    It's not always-- or even "usually" -- a case of parents not caring.

    I can say that, during my "black cloud" period, I felt like a bad mom. I missed a LOT of what was going on in my kids' school, as I lurched from doctor to hospital to funeral home to my own job to trying to cover child care.

    I think that a big part of our job as teachers is NOT to critique what's going on at home, but to reach and teach the kids in spite of it.

    Teachers as a group are quick to say that we're not responsible for all that goes on outside our classrooms... as if parents are. I'm fairly sure that the overwhelming number of parents who can't be actively involved in their kids' learning desperately wish it were otherwise.
     
  12. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I don't believe in parents paying kids for grades anyway, but that's just me. I have a parent who pays her 6 year old for every book he reads because he didn't like reading. He still doesn't like it and really only does it for the money-I just wouldn't want that to be the example I was setting for my kids. If I believed I should only do things for money I definitely wouldn't have become a teacher.

    We also laid off 200 Special Ed teachers and 100 paras because of budget issues this year-so I agree that money could be better spent on resources to help these kids. Schools do a lot to include parents-some just say the education part is on the teacher, some genuinely want to help but don't know what to do, I agree-I just don't think paying them $20 to attend a conference is the solution.

    I think you can make the same arguments we make against merit pay for teachers-doesn't this just increase the reliance on test scores and simply passing the test? Will it increase cheating? Is it fair to that child with a learning disability who simply can't do it as hard as they try?

    I'm also wondering too what all these 5th Graders will do with almost $500-I would be worried about where that money was going-I sincerely doubt these kids will just invest it in a college fund.
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I know that, in my school community, this is certainly the case. In many of our families, parents are working 3 or more jobs in order to keep a roof over their heads. At the same time, they are doing all they can to learn English. When parents sit in a meeting and apologize that their child's struggles are "their fault", it breaks my heart.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It's hard, isn't it Mrs. C?

    When one of my own kids would come home from school that year and report that they had totally forgotten that day's science test, it would break my heart.

    SHOULD I have been on top of it? Sure, that's the easy answer. But real life is seldom as easy as education courses would have us believe. Sometimes-- often that year-- real life gets in the way of school.

    As to paying kids to read: I don't do it. But I've got to tell you: my son HATES to read. The only times he's read this summer have been when I've said to him: you NEED to go upstairs and read for 20 minutes. Twenty minutes later, by the clock, he was back downstairs.

    So if a parent sees that as the only way to get a kid to read, then who am I to say it isn't the most appropriate method for that house?

    I'm also not entirely against Merit Pay for teachers :eek:My issue with the original proposal is that it widens the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" both in terms of finances and academic ability.

    I think the money might be better spent working on that gap-- perhaps after school programs to help kids struggling with the material.
     
  15. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    So it's really happening! I'm just shocked, just shocked There's a million reasons I'm against this and I only have one more minute here this morning. Just shocking!
     
  16. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    So we continue enabling those who won't work and don't want to work. I'm surprised they're going to offer it to every kid, figure they'd exclude those with any type of income.
     
  17. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    You can debate if something is fair until the cows come home.

    Nothing in life is fair.

    I applaud them for trying this method. If it doesn't work, move on.

    There's always plenty of people to shout out the negatives of things without offering any positive solutions themselves. Come to think of it, a lot of them are politicians.
     
  18. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    For a lot of my parents, $20 wouldn't make up for the wages they'd be missing by not being at work + bus fare to and from my school.
     
  19. jforegolf

    jforegolf Rookie

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    Reading this idea actually made me get angry. I agree that the fairness aspect of this is absurdly ridiculous in that anyone who has ever taught a special education student can tell you that to expect some of them to master grade level material is unfair to them and a near impossibility until previous skills from prior grade levels are first mastered . Imagine that students feeling when they don't get anything on "payday" because they could not master long division because they don't know their times tables. That's sickening. No amount of money is going to be able to make that student overcome the cognitive defects that make learning a struggle.

    The bigger message is also sickening. Doesn't this just perpetuate the materialistic society so many of these kids get caught up in anyway? It just serves to reinforce that anything worth doing is worth doing for money. What happens when these students are asked to do a task that will not be monetarily rewarded? Where does the motivation come from then if they are not taught how to motivate themselves to learn? Clearly educating the whole student is not a top priority in this administrators mind.
     
  20. OedipaMaas

    OedipaMaas Rookie

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    I remember reading about an experiment like this years ago in, I think, the NYT Sunday Magazine, except the school was paying kids for attendance and homework, not grades, and I believe it was at the jr. high or high school level, not elementary. As I recall, there was an initial uptick in attendance, but it fell off quickly and was not sustained over time. If there were evidence that monetary rewards systems were effective, I'd be willing to say, well, ok, it's worth a shot, but I've never read anything suggesting that's the case.

    There was an interesting article in the Economist recently about paying families to send their children to school. The gist was that in underdeveloped, agricultural regions, incentive programs have actually been extremely successful, but that in impoverished urban areas, the programs failed.
     
  21. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    I'm surprised no one noted this article at http://preview.tinyurl.com/yfnq895 -- a Time magazine article from just this Spring.

    From the article:
     
  22. 2ndTimeAround

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    Yeah, in one of my graduate classes a fellow student did a research paper based on that NY program. She thought it was a great idea - whatever got the kids in school. It was something ridiculous though - like they would give the teens $300 if they had perfect attendance for a grading period. Too many students were skipping school and getting themselves into legal trouble. I pointed out that drug-dealing teens would realize that they could make $300 in minutes and would not bother to waste nine weeks in school to earn the same.
     
  23. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    I think if schools held meetings on Saturdays, then parents would be more inclined to be more involved, I spoke to a lot of parents around the community I teach at and the consensus is that they can't be involved during the week because they work full time or multiple jobs.

    I'm for holding parents accountable for their children's behavior, but not academic performance.Once we do this ALL schools will be turned around. Schools have their hands tied when it comes to behavior. We gave out ipods to the 3 students who scored the highest on the state tests. This is fine because they were donated. Giving out money is straight up wrong considering the current economic crisis.
     
  24. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Interesting article. I think it's particularly interesting that they are calling good results in 1 out of 4 schools a success.

    I still believe we have to set high expectations for the kids. If we expect them not to be able to develop an intrinsic love of learning they won't. I also think it's unfair to say most people only work for the money-there are a lot of people out there who aren't paid for the extra time they put into their jobs-it's just their work ethic.

    I can tell you from training a dog-that if you train them simply with the reward in hand-they will only perform if they know you have that reward. I think we're really short-changing these kids.
     
  25. Cerek

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    I'm a bit confused. How does this enable those who won't work or don't want to work? If they don't work, they don't get the reward.

    Could you clarify, please?
     

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