An article in the New
York Times last week described a pilot program in New York City public schools that provides
monetary incentives to students for meritorious performance on standardized
tests. Since the beginning of the school year, the district has distributed $500,000
to 5,237 students in 58 schools.
Read the article at NYTimes.com
and tell us what you think of the
According to the article, New York is only one of a number of school
districts experimenting with incentive programs like the one designed by
Harvard economist Rolan G. Fryer. Baltimore, Maryland, is considering similar
measures to improve test scores. And if the initiative is successful in New York, you can bet
that cities across the country will follow suit.
There are many vital issues to consider:
the program prove successful in boosting test scores in both the short and long
the end justify the means? Is this the appropriate message to be sending to
Are there any
unintended consequences that should be considered?
My own reaction to the program parallels that of New York school
Principal Barbara Slatin: initial skepticism and repulsion, tempered by mild
optimism and curiosity. It seems to me that there must be alternative methods to
enhance student performance, not based on cash incentives. I’d like think the
education system can provide fun, engaging learning experiences and articulate
the value of a well-rounded education—beyond standardized test outcomes—to
students. The optimal solution, that
will be effective over the long-term, is it to get students excited about
education and the process of learning. And well-designed, comprehensive,
engaging and personally relevant geographic classes that teach students about
their world, its wonders and challenges, are a great place to start. And maybe throw in a gold star or two.
Sarah for My Wonderful World