This story in the Rocky Mountain News is about one high school that decided to pay their students to take their state tests in order to increase attendance. Students received about $50 each total, $5 for each test they took and an additional $1 for good behavior. The result? They had almost 100 percent attendance.
At least as interesting as the story is the comments left at the end. The general consensus from commenters seems to be that giving incentives to take tests is a bad idea. There are a lot of interesting ideas down there, before the comments begin to deteriorate into personal attacks. Apparently, cash incentives are a very touchy subject.
Also, in the March 2008 issue of American Teacher, there’s are two columns side-by-side, one written by a teacher who does not believe in cash incentives and the other by one who does. Both columns are well-written and address this issue in a thoughtful way, so I highly encourage you to read them. The only bad news is that to view the columns, you have to download the pdf version of the magazine, but like I said, for those who are following this issue, it’s a worthy read. The columns are in the Speak Out section on page 4 of the download.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.