Grades For Money

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Not long ago, I read an article in the Teachers College Record about school districts providing monetary incentives for students to get good grades and improve their attendance. There were many views on whether this was a good thing or not. Since I haven’t developed an opinion, I decided to take an unscientific poll to see what other educators thought about it.

A small group of teachers were asked if they’d support their school district paying students to receive good grades or having good attendance. 25% said they would. 53% said they didn’t think it was a good idea, and 22% were undecided.

A few comments against the program included: - A fear that we would be removing the desire for kids to work for themselves and their own sense of accomplishment. - Concern that we would be teaching kids that there’s a pay-off for everything they do. - Apprehension regarding what happens when the money runs out. and, - A thought that money is being made the central focus of school not gaining knowledge.

A few comments in favor of the program included: - A sentiment that poor kids would have money during the summer. - A belief that giving the money would reduce the crime rate in some areas. - A thought that students need to have something to look forward too. And finally one teacher stated; - Whatever it takes to get them to learn.

Many parents give their children gifts for getting good grades. Many of these gifts include money. Is there a difference between parents doing it and school districts doing it? According to the article, there’s no scientifically based evidence describing the benefit of giving financial incentives for children to learn, and the money can be better spent teaching students, who aren’t college bound, vocational or technical skills.

Although the jury’s still out on this one, ask yourself this question. If you pay your child for getting good grades, is he still learning how to self-motivate, follow plans for his future, and does he feel a sense of accomplishment regardless of the financial gain, or is he doing it just for the money, and when the money stops he’ll stop doing his best?

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