This summer more than a thousand Portland area students are getting ready for their first year of high school with help from the program Ninth Grade Counts. They’ll visit colleges and business and talk with local leaders about their future. If they complete the program, they’ll be rewarded with $100 gift cards. The idea is that if kids do well in ninth grade, they are far less likely to drop out of high school later. Rewarding students for academic performance is being tried in New York and other cities around the country, but not without some controversy. The concept of paying students to motivate them to learn irks some educators and worries others.
But for some students, options are limited. Some school teachers in the Portland area report dramatic results with learning disabled students participating in The Shadow Project, which rewards kids with “shadow bucks” that they can use to buy toys, school supplies and gifts.
Do you reward your children with money for grades? Did you get rewarded as a child or teenager with money for academic performance? If you’re a teacher or work with students, how do you think a financial incentive affects the motive to learn?