Student Achievement

“The School Game,” Cash Incentives, and An Announcement

By Katie Ash — December 09, 2008 1 min read
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Here at, we’ve got a lot of really fantastic blogs that run the gamut of education topics, and catching up with them over the past few days, I ran into a couple of posts that are particularly relevant to those interested in student motivation.

Over at Bridging Differences, Deborah Meier talks about what happens when students “play the school game,”—i.e. when getting good grades begins to become more important than actually taking and pursuing classes that they’re actually interested in.

Meanwhile, as one of my grandsons reminded me, high school and college alike are “means” for getting credits that can be turned into diplomas that can be turned into one’s improved job chances. The “school game” is set up to explore youth’s ingenuity at how to accomplish this task with the least energy and the least risk-taking—and the most money!

On her New Terrain blog, Jessica Shyu, who is now a program director for Teach For America in Washington, talks about how for at least one student, Washington’s cash incentive program for students is working. She is quick to note, though, that it wasn’t the incentive program alone. Another strong factor in this student’s academic turnaround was “a really amazing teacher who teaches standards-aligned material that is rigorous, based in literature, and uses effective guided notes and assessment practices.”

Jessica also links to an interview with Roland Fryer, the creator of incentive programs in NYC, Washington, and Chicago, on The Colbert Report, which I have to admit was much different from the interview I did with him a few months back.

My last announcement is somewhat of a technical one. It seems that our RSS feed, which has been on the fritz for awhile, has been repaired. If you already have a reader, subscribe to Motivation Matters’ feed by clicking on the orange icon to the right that says “Get RSS” and follow the instructions from there. If you don’t use an RSS reader to keep track of all your blogs, you might want to check one out. I started using one a few years ago, and I don’t know how I managed before. Check out this short, but helpful video, to get started.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.