According the October Communicator article titled “A Twist to Pay for Performance: Cash for Students,” schools in New York City and Washington, D.C., are using cash as a motivator for students to perform well in school. For example, middle schoolers in the District of Columbia can earn up to $1,500 a year for such accomplishments as good test scores, solid attendance, and completing homework.

Although the New York City program, which distributed $1.1 million to the 5,889 participating students last school year, is fully funded by private monies, the District of Columbia will pay for nearly half the $2.7 million set aside for its program. The remaining funds will come from private grant monies.

What do you think about the idea of paying students for good grades and test scores, as well as for solid attendance records—can it work? If you had the option of implementing such a program in your school, would you?

Here’s what one principal said: Money is a motivator. However, I am very concerned that to proceed with such a path is futile ... To implement such a plan will increase taxes and stipulate that every child must be paid to do what he or she must do as a member of society ... If I were given the option to implement such a program, I would not comply. If directed to implement such a program, I would resign my position.

re: Would You Pay Your Students?

I find the program interesting and if it gets kids to go to school and to do well then it is certainly a good motivator. On the other hand, what are we teaching our students. Only do things if you get paid. Don't give it your best effort unless you get paid. Doing things because they are expected and/or the right thing to do is perfectly acceptable. This is really a double edged sword. If asked to impliment such a program, I would be reluctant to do so. I think there may be other options that

re: Would You Pay Your Students?

I, too, find the concept of paying students interesting but I am not sold on the idea being a long term solution. Sure it may motivate students in the short term but it will not teach the students to become self-motivated and it will not help to create life long learners which is a goal of most schools. Once the student leaves that program of being paid they may return to not wanting to do the work. We need to teach students to become self motivated rather than be motivated by external forces. They need to want to learn and become more informed on their own.

re: Would You Pay Your Students?

I have advocated for several years this type of incentive program. However, my Superintendent and other administrators did not agree. I believe it should only be offered for students in the high school program and should only be tied to standarized tests. I advocate a pool of money that is available for students who score at specific levels on the test. They told that they have the opportunity to "earn" money for their performance on the tests. I believe in maintaining the integrity of daily work and it relationship with intrinsic motivation, however on standardized testing for NCLB regulations, I feel we could benefit if students knoew they could earn money for performing well.

re: Would You Pay Your Students?

I find paying students for taking or performing on standardized tests a very sad proposition. What's the purpose in doing this? Basically, I see this as bribing students. We need to find a way to motivate students intrinsically.

I understand that we're facing high poverty, as well as parent apathy and neglect in many situations, but paying students is not a solution. It's a like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. It will not solve any problems, and it sends a message to students that we will pay you to play the testing game. That's a very dangerous precedent to set.

re: Would You Pay Your Students?

I tend to favor, personally, cash incentives that are in the form of scholarships/educational travel. In the state of Texas, approx. one half of all offenders in our prison system come in without a high school diploma or GED. They are housed at tax-payers' expense (depending on the state) at between $40,000-$50,000/year. We have to do a better job of improving graduation rates. Do the math! It seems to me to make more sense to hand each graduate a diploma in one hand and $5,000 check/scholarship for the other. It's putting our money where our mouth is--finish school!!

re: Would You Pay Your Students?

I have very strong feelings about extrinsic rewards and their effect on society. There is no simplistic solution to motivation yet we continue to act like there is one. When will we learn? Alfie Kohn says that rewards do motivate-they motivate people to get more rewards. Why is there cheating on tests? William Glasser asks us what we are doing when students misbehave, encouraging us to look at our behavior and the systems we have in place. Extrinsic rewards are just such a system yet we are suprised when we don't get the outcome we expect.

re: Would You Pay Your Students?

I tend to agree that extrinsic rewards such as money have inherent problems. If students are given money for performing well, then they will lose the intrinsic motivation that we instill in them. Every educator desires that his/her students become “life-long learners.” Unfortunately, this goal does not offer any extrinsic reward. If we instill the belief that learning should only done if we are getting paid for it, then students will only desire to learn when they are getting paid.
However, I struggle with this idea because some extrinsic rewards seem perfectly acceptable, like the elementary teacher who puts a sticker on a high performing student’s test, or the student that gets a special pencil for good behavior all week, or the student that gets candy for doing something well. I personally see that there is a fine line between what most educators and administrators see as a common and beneficial teaching practice of rewarding students with small items, and basically paying students for scoring high on tests. Perhaps the only remedy is to teach students that the greatest reward is the satisfaction that they get within, but at times supplementing this with an extrinsic motivator.