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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Another plug for paying students to learn



money_motivation.The latest pitch for financial incentives for students comes from a highly regarded think tank. In a new paper from the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project, Bradley Allan and Roland Fryer, two Harvard guys who have researched student incentives, say that while there's not a lot of research about the potential of such programs, what is there trends positive enough to keep trying.

"Financial incentives in education are potentially powerful once we develop a deeper understanding of the right model for how children and teachers respond to financial incentives. In Houston, for instance, students who were provided incentives mastered 125 percent more math objectives than students who were not given incentives. Paying students to read books yields large and statistically significant increases in reading comprehension. Incentives for other inputs like attendance, wearing a school uniform, or doing homework did not significantly improve achievement. Thus, if nothing else, we have shown that students will respond to the incentives— but we have not yet discovered the best activities to provide incentives for. It is important to note that our work has barely scratched the surface of what is possible with incentive programs.

Using our experiences as a guide, we hope school districts, policy-makers, and scholars will try new and creative ways to increase student achievement with incentives and, perhaps even more importantly, rigorously assess the impact of their efforts."

We wrote about this a few years ago. At the time, then Florida Education Commissioner John Winn said the state already had the biggest student incentive program in the country: Bright Futures.

Anybody recall the Legislature taking up student financial incentives in any other way since then? Any school or district efforts out there worth noting?

And worth trying?

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 29, 2011 12:49pm]


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