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An Alternative Pay for Performance

New York City officials have decided against expanding a bold experiment in which poor families were paid for doing things like taking their children to the dentist, sending them to school regularly, and holding a full-time job. The city’s decision came after a study showed that the program had yielded mixed effects on families’ well-being, reports The New York Times.

Did N.Y.C. pull the plug too soon? We may yet find out. Experiments with conditional cash-transfer programs have proved to be very successful in Mexico and other less-prosperous countries, but this experiment was the first of its kind in the U.S. And researchers will continue to monitor it for three more years. —Debra Viadero


NEA’s Wish List

Congressional lawmakers got a recent present from the National Education Association: its vision for reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, i.e., No Child Left Behind.

Among other things, the union would like Congress to restore the federal class-size-reduction program; create a school construction program; increase accountability for charter schools certified by the U.S. Department of Education; and create a new program supporting the development of curricula, assessments, and professional development to support 21st-century skills. —Stephen Sawchuk


Testing Expectations

If only everyone stopped using the word “achievement” as a synonym for test scores. It’s a sleight of hand that justifies so much that’s gone wrong. Having “normal” temperature may be an indicator of health, but when we think it’s the definition of health, beware. We wouldn’t be so stupid, would we? A high score on a multiple-choice driving test means something different from a road test driving a car. Do we value intellectual achievement less? —Deborah Meier

Vol. 29, Issue 28, Page 13

Published in Print: April 7, 2010, as Blogs of the Week
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