Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Paying students for high scores or attendance at extra classes

An experiment being funded by the Broad Foundation is the idea of paying students for higher test scores.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2008/09/the_business_model_and_its_dis.html

A parent here in Pittsburgh reports that in a program that began last year, students are being compensated with gift cards to attend Saturday PSSA prep classes, extra tutoring, etc. There does not seem to have been much if any discussion of this program in the media, during televised Board meetings or on the District web site.

23 comments:

Questioner said...

The NYT had a recent article on this topic:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/health/03rewa.html?_r=1

Anonymous said...

Are the gift cards and other compensation district-wide or is that something that individual schools have done with their discretionary money?

PPSparent said...

I think that it was done with the money for the afterschool tutoring -- at least several of the schools did that, I assume it was something that was suggested as a way to improve attendance at these sessions.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Gift cards, humm....

I'm remembering a bunch of gift cards and a former principal at Allderdice.

Questioner said...

Here's the story:

http://kdka.com/kdkainvestigators/taylor.alderdice.gift.2.880374.html

Questioner said...

How many high school students would have been thrilled w/ a Giant Eagle card as a reward anyway?

It seems that these latest cards are from stores like Best Buy.

Taxpayer said...

What a horrible idea. What a joke this district has become: apologist curriculum in a can, inflated grades and now, paying students for school work. What an absolute joke. When will demands for resignations be made?

Anonymous said...

This is not meant in any way to imply that this was/is a good idea (actually, research is still being done on this sort of thing -- and studying for a specific, kind of generic test that means more to the administration than the student is likely to be one of the places where "rewards" might help).

However, don't think that this is somehow unique to PPS. It's a huge trend everywhere, with prizes and money and all sorts of things riding on test scores and im[provement.

Pretty much any poorly-conceived idea you can find here is being supported by big foundation money across the country. I don't know how we fight that or band together though -- every big district has parents and teachers that see this...and they're being just as ignored those other places.

Cornelius Figgyfinn said...

Yet another instance of a central administration having absolutely no clue--none--about academic integrity. Perhaps Roosevelt will set a new course in which teachers conduct their classes on the neighborhood street corner, in proximity to where the kids live. After all, we don't want to inconvenience anyone...except teachers, of course. And who cares about them?

Anonymous said...

I just read on today's daily bulletin that juniors at Schenleystein will receive a reward if they show up for breakfast all 3 days of PSSA testing!

Questioner said...

I guess that will help get them to the test on time.

But again, how does this help prepare students for college or other training where no one is making sure they eat breakfast? Or is preparing students for these tests more important than preparing them for life?

Mr.Figgyfinn said...

Questioner, that's the wrong viewpoint. It's NOT the way to run an academic system. Whatever happened to integrity. Why give in to laziness?

Anonymous said...

I just got off the phone after being talked to by Mike Tomlin, telling me to help make my kid Promise ready by feeding him/her a good breakfast before his/her PSSAs. I guess Tomlin hasn't heard that my parental responsibility for feeding my kid a nourishing breakfast has been taken over by the school. Actually the breakfast blip came from the district messenger, Tomlin just told the kids that the tests are important, etc. and will help make them Promise ready. Is there anyone in the city that hasn't heard about the Promise? Enough already!

Mr.Figgyfinn said...

The problem is, most people only read blips from the district, from Smydo or hear from Andy Sheehan and miss the main point. A prospective college student MUST apply for financial aid first and take what he can get. Only then will the promise hopefully shore up any debt that remains. Look, any money is good money, but when you come out of college and still have thousands in loans you have to re-pay, how can you call it a "free education"???

Anonymous said...

When doing well in school is closely tied to a monetary reward, i.e. gift cards from the school or money from the parents you are teaching a BAD lesson! Not to sound sappy but people often need to find their rewards from within or they will always expect it from others. These types of rewards are educationally unsound and therefore 'perfect for the PPS way of doing things'

Questioner said...

Some have made the argument that while upper income parents can reward children who do well in school that is not the case for lower income children and so it the school in offering these rewards is just stepping in to do what parents cannot.

But, itmay be that a reward offered by a parent is just a token of something more important-approval of the parent, and a message from the parent about the importance of studying and learning. Can a school so easily step in for a parent?

Anonymous said...

"Can a school so easily step in for a parent?"

Questioner, you nailed it. Whether we are talking Obama's new education package, which targets teachers (yet again) or local administration, the point is simple, and one that we as a society have never found an answer to:

if parents don't value education, chances are their children won't either. If there is no visible parent to guide their child, chances are that he will not find the academic process to be worthwhile.

Politicians and observers are quick to place blame on "failing schools" but unfortunately, their gutlessness evades the point: in America, we have a great many trailer park types unfit to be parents. This is the number one reason behind failing schools.
Tell it like it is. Wish I had a solution to your question. Wish I knew how to put the genie back into the bottle.

Questioner said...

OK until the part about trailer park parents. Anon, you have more in common w/ the Broad model than you may realize!

As the superintendent often says, children "do not choose their parents" (implying that maybe they would have selected other parents if given the choice?). The Broad response seems to be to downplay the role of parents across the board. And you also seem to write off some parents. And stereotypes based on where people live only make things harder for them.

Questioner said...

Corrected note:

OK until the part about trailer park parents. Anon, you have more in common w/ the Broad model than you may realize!

The superintendent often says children "do not choose their parents" (implying that maybe they would have selected other parents if given the choice?). The Broad response seems to be to downplay the role of parents across the board. And you also seem to write off some parents. And stereotypes based on where people live only make things harder for them.

March 15, 2009 10:37 AM

Anonymous said...

I think you missed the point of "trailer park", Questioner, and I apologize. What I meant was that for every parent who cares about their kid's education--like we see here--we have 2 or 3 who are into other things and not their kids' health and well being. I was making the stereotype of "trailer park parents" based what I see and read in common lore, and meant to say that unfortunately, we live in a time when people have taken more interest in self gratification than in their children.
Apologies to any parents who hail from trailer homes that DO care for the comment.
And Questioner, lumping me in with the Broad Program crowd? Come on now...lol.

Questioner said...

To try to explain better- the common idea is that a large group of parents are "lost causes." If the Broad folks would take a fraction of the money and effort it puts into incentive programs and other "corporate" measures and put it into efforts to work with families, then we would see results.

She said...

I'm always uncomfortable blaming any current problems on uncaring or negligent or whatever parents. And that's not saying I doubt that there are some out there, either.

However, that's always been the case. For as long as there's been public education, there have been parents sending hungry/dirty/ill-cared for children to school and providing them homes that don't have books or value education.

It's part of the problem and to try and address it by just writing off those kids or blaming the parents doesn't get us very far.

Truth is most parents I see, even ones I would personally not consider to be any great shakes, are doing what they can given their own circumstances.

I don't know how to crack this problem. It's one of the reasons that all-day and all-year school has caught on among some charter programs -- to try and remove kids from the "bad influences" of home. But, truth is, even in those situations, some kids make it and some kids...get kicked out and sent right back to regular public schools.

Anonymous said...

"Hailing from a trailer park"- yes we are out here- my family lived in a trailer park when I was born, always stressed education, and I went on to earn degrees from two top universities, in each case graduating near the top of the class. It was tough but it also toughens you.