Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
School & District Management

Professor to Test Cash Incentives

By Caroline Hendrie — December 07, 2004 1 min read

Roland G. Fryer thinks he knows a common-sense way to get pupils from struggling city neighborhoods to try harder in class: pay them for their efforts.

This winter, the assistant professor of economics at Harvard University plans to test his theory in a New York City research project. With the blessing of city Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, the 3rd and 7th graders taking part in the study will receive small amounts of cash for doing well on standardized classroom tests given every three weeks or so. The project is slated to start in February in 20 public schools scattered around New York City.

“We think of this as a real serious attempt to understand the efficacy of incentives,” said Mr. Fryer, who is in his second year of teaching at Harvard. “It’s an organized allowance program for people in communities who don’t have the resources to give their kids allowance.”

If all goes as planned, youngsters will be rewarded both on an individual and a group basis for scoring at a certain level or improving significantly on assessments designed to prepare them for high-stakes tests. At each three-week testing milestone, 3rd graders would be eligible for $10 each, while 7th graders could earn $20 each.

Mr. Fryer said he was scouting for a bank to partner with him in the study, with the understanding that half of the rewards would go into accounts set up for the students and the other half would go into their pockets.

Troubled by prior research he conducted on the achievement gap between black and white students in the early grades, Mr. Fryer began thinking that money might be a way to kick-start a positive cycle of achievement among students of color from disadvantaged communities.

“You can’t tell a kindergartner, ‘If you graduate, I’ll pay for your college education,’ ” he said. “But if you can give them step by step—achievement, reward, achievement, reward—then they’ll be there.”

For those alarmed by the notion of paying children to learn, Mr. Fryer predicts that “the joy of achievement” will come to mean far more to the pupils than the money.

“Most of these 3rd graders can barely read,” he said. “If grubbing for grades gets them basic skills, so be it.”

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

School & District Management Student Mental Health and Learning Loss Continue to Worry Principals
Months into the pandemic, elementary principals say they still want training in crucial areas to help students who are struggling.
3 min read
Student sitting alone with empty chairs around her.
Maria Casinos/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion A Road Map for Education Research in a Crisis
Here are five basic principles for a responsible and timely research agenda during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robin J. Lake
4 min read
Two opposing sides reaching out to work together
J.R. Bee for Education Week
School & District Management 1,000 Students, No Social Distancing, and a Fight to Keep the Virus Out
A principal describes the "nightmare" job of keeping more than 1,000 people safe in the fast-moving pandemic.
4 min read
Dixie Rae Garrison, principal of West Jordan Middle School, in West Jordan, Utah.
Dixie Rae Garrison, principal of West Jordan Middle School in West Jordan, Utah, would have preferred a hybrid schedule and other social distancing measures.
Courtesy of Dixie Rae Garrison
School & District Management A School Leader Who Calls Her Own Shots on Battling the Coronavirus
A charter school founder uses her autonomy to move swiftly on everything from classroom shutdowns to remote schooling.
3 min read
Nigena Livingston, founder and head of School at the URBAN ACT Academy in Indianapolis, Ind.
Nigena Livingston, founder and head of school at the URBAN ACT Academy in Indianapolis, makes swift decisions in responding to the threat of COVID-19 in her school community.
Courtesy of Nigena Livingston