Paying students for grades

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Jerseygirlteach, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Oct 20, 2011

    I'm sure this subject has been brought up before but since I haven't seen it....:)

    I saw a documentary last night called "Freakonomics" which discussed a myriad of topics but one of them was giving students financial incentives for earning passing grades. I believe that the students were given $50 a month and entered into a school lottery with the chance to win $500 a month plus a limo ride home if they met eligibility requirements. Their eligibility requirements were no "full day" detentions for the month and an average grade of at least a C. The results were not very impressive. There was only a very small improvement of overall grades during the program.

    I found myself torn because $50 a month per child is a whole lot less than other programs that could be put in place to improve student performance so if it worked, maybe it was worth it. But the idea of having to bribe kids to get "C" grades disgusts me. They profiled one 9th grade boy who was completely apathetic about school. The idea of the financial incentive appealed to him but, in the end, it wasn't enough to get him to change his lifestyle habits of socializing, skateboarding, and being the "class clown." They showed his mother telling the boy that she would be willing to match the $50 incentive if he earned it but I couldn't help thinking "Why doesn't she take away the cell phone, the video games, and the skateboard and make him earn those?"

    Is this what we've come to in our society that the only way to make kids see the importance of good grades is to give them cash? If cash is the answer then I think we should bypass the kids and give the money to the parents. Maybe if the parents would earn 50 bucks a month if their kids actually do their schoolwork, we might see some results.

    I'm curious what you think? I just hate the precedent it sets: the only reason to do well in school is to earn dollars. It just seems so wrong.
     
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  3. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Oct 20, 2011

    I just had this discussion with my kids. We read an article about gradefund.com and had a really cool discussion. They had some really interesting discussions about cheating and other incentives.

    The premise is that people can sponsor the students and agree to pay a certain amount in dollars for every A the student earns. It's rather interesting. I'm torn on the topic. I know getting my free donut after report cards was one of the highlights of elementary school for me :lol:
     
  4. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Many adults perform based on pay. A low paying job will result in minimal effort while a good salarly inspires or motivates solid work. Again, many but not all adults. So I don't think it's outright nuts to consider this, but it does concern me in regards to the bigger picture. Learning for the sake of learning, taking pride and ownership in your work...I don't know, it worries me those things are already suffering and I'm afraid working for the dollar and not the value of learning will only worsen the problem. Like at school, if I only performed for the money and didn't have my heart in it, I just feel that will be noticed...something will be lacking.
     
  5. OneBerry

    OneBerry Comrade

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    Oct 20, 2011

  6. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Oct 20, 2011

    I saw something in a documentary (a different one) about kids being paid for grades. Half of the money went to them, and half went to a college fund.

    They earned according to their grade, so an A earned the most. In the case of the show I saw, it was working.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    This makes me think of pay for performance for teachers- I'm in a PFP district and it seems to be the catching "new thing" in education reform. This seems kind of similar in a way, just with students...so I wonder if people have the same opinion on both topics?
     
  8. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Oct 21, 2011

    How about a well thought out scheme which requires students to maintain a certain minimum grade ...... say C+, B-, or B. Those that don't meet the minimum requirement get to repeat the grade...... or .... perhaps enjoy two months of "summer school."........:eek:

    It just might "motivate" a few under-performers.
     
  9. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Oct 21, 2011

    I will say that I am not really a fan of either one. Pay for grades or pay for performace with teachers.
    Kids: Their reward is knowledge and opportunity in the future. Whether or not this means something to them at the time, thats different for each student.
    Teachers: If someone is going to hire them to do the job, they need to believe they are good enough to do the job. If you don't think they are doing the job, get rid of them. Not pay for perfrom, especially when it comes to pay for how some child perfroms.
     
  10. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Oct 21, 2011

    Your first statement is not really true. Research has shown that, when people are doing the same job, those receiving lower pay actually reported a higher rate of job satisfaction - especially when the job was rather mundane (like assembly line work). The researchers had the same hypothesis - if we pay more for the same job, the higher paid workers will be more motivated to do a good job. In fact, they found the opposite to be true. The higher paid workers did NOT like the job, took less pride in their work and gave less effort. Those with less pay reported a higher job satisfaction and more motivation.

    Investigating these unexpected results, the researchers theorized that those receiving less pay had to find a way to "justify" the job to themselves more than those with higher pay, so they decided they got more satisfaction out of doing the job itself.

    You can also look at the ultra-rich executives as another example. When their business practices put their firms on the brink of bankruptcy and the government bailed them out, did they learn from their mistakes and change their practice? NO! Instead, they continued on with business as usual with a couple of firms using the bail-out money to pay their executive bonuses and send them on expensive "business retreats" to luxury spas and golf courses.

    Finally, you can look at the program itself. The skater kid admitted $50 per grade wasn't enough to motivate him to do better.

    Putting money into a college fund is an alternative, but that will only motivate those who are planning to attend college and, chances are, those students are already making the grades necessary to get into college.

    Giving the money to the parents won't really increase parental support of schoolwork. Our society has become excessively materialistic and those parents who do not help with homework now STILL won't help with homework, although they may become much more demanding of the student to perform better so the parent can't keep getting their monthly allotment. That will be even more counterproductive than giving the money to the kids. How do you think the skater kid will feel about school when his mom starts yelling at him to "Get your a$$ off that video game and do your homework so *I* can get my money this month?" All that will do is make the kid hate school even more and, quite possibly, motivate him to drop out rather than put up with the constant hassle at home.

    I agree with most of the others that teachers need to find a way to make kids want to learn just for the sake of learning. How we would do that differs from individual to individual, but a good step would be creating engaging and exciting lesson plans and projects. Things that are outside the normal daily grind. Or find ways to make the lesson more energetic and exciting.

    I had a couple of teachers in 6th-8th grade that did this. My 6th grade math teacher had us do a Multiplication Challenge one day, where two students came to the board and were given two numbers to multiply. The one that completed the problem first, got to face another challenger and got to remain at the board until someone else beat them. It was a lot of fun for me, because I was the winner. But it wouldn't be the best exercise for those that struggle with multiplication because they would think they have no chance of winning. This same teacher also drew a homeplate and 3 bases on the floor one day, then divided the room into teams and we played a game of Baseball Math. That was fun and everyone had an equal chance of winning.

    My 7th grade science teacher divided us into groups and gave us an open-ended project on dinosaur research. Each group was allowed to think up their own presentation. One group had a couple of our better artist in it. They used colored chalk to draw a dinosaur scene on one of the chalkboards. The teacher left the drawing on the board for 3 weeks.

    All of these things made learning more fun and exciting. Unfortunately, the demands of state testing rarely leave us with the time to do things like this anymore. Still, we do the best we can and try to find ways to present the material in a unique way while still meeting the state criteria.

    And, of course, the love of learning for the sake of learning is something the students have to develop for themselves. Even those these different lessons were fun, I still went through school completing most of my assignments just because that was what I had to do. Then, in my senior year, we had a new LA teacher that used a large book of stories in class. One story, in particular, was very exciting to me and referenced several of Edgar Allen Poe's works. I was only vaguely familiar with The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart at the time. So that afternoon, I went to the public library and found a book of Poe's collected stories, then took it home and began reading the stories mentioned that I was not familiar with. I took the book to class the next day and the teacher gave me a LOT of praise. THAT was the type of individual effort he had been trying to motivate in us and I was the first one to finally get the hint.

    It took a long time for me to reach the point of realizing I needed to look up things on my own outside the classroom and do it just for the sake of learning more about a given subject. That is the type of motivation we need to encourage in our students. It won't work for every student in every subject - some kids will never want to learn more math than necessary and some will never be interested in history or creative writing, but some will and every kid is interested in something. One of our goals as educators is to discover what they are interested in and find a way to incorporate that into our curriculum.
     
  11. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    Oct 21, 2011

    I agree with Cerek. The "Good to Great" book (what do GREAT companies do?) summarizes it nicely:

    1. You can't make unmotivated people motivated by giving them more money.
    2. You keep motivated people motivated by giving them more money.

    Basically, you have to find the right people for the right job (a job they intrisically enjoy doing).
     
  12. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Oct 21, 2011

    I believe, based on my experiences, it's still sometimes true. I certainly don't mean for it to be a sweeping generalization. What you say makes sense (in regards to focusing on a more positive attitude despite their low pay).
     
  13. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Oct 21, 2011

    Students (in public schools) are provided with a school, a classroom, a teacher, books, and a lot of overhead admin people now. All of this is paid for by the taxpayer. As a taxpayer I don't care to pony more money to "motivate" the kids to make better grades. At some point the individual .... yes even kids ..... have to assume some personal responsibility.

    BTW, please see post #7............:):)

    (Major, please remember you are not a professional educator .... you are only a part time guest teacher..;))
     

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