KLEIN’S LATEST: Pay for Performance – For Kids! Is the “Love of Learning” the “Old” Paradigm? Is “Bribing” Kids “the Answer” for Low Income Children?

Should students be paid for taking tests? Should students be paid for higher test scores?

Sound like some lame-brained scheme?

City Hall, reports today’s NY Daily News , “… is getting ready to unveil a cash ‘incentive’ plan for thousands of low-income students who will take new assessment tests…”

During the 07-08 school year all students in grades 3-8 will take five assessment exams, created by McGraw-Hill and rolled out by the Department with great fanfare. The tests are referred to as “no stakes” tests and will be used solely as a guide for teachers. To enable teachers to tailor student work to meet the precise needs of each kid.

What the Department failed to announce was that in the 400 plus Empowerment Schools, according to the Daily News, “Fourth graders would get $25 and seventh graders $50 for nailing a perfect score …. all participating students will receive smaller amounts of money … Every kid gets an incentive just for taking each assessment; $5 for fourth graders and $10 for seventh graders …. for each correct answer student’s earn an additional reward … all students will earn something, those that perform better will earn more.”

The creator of this plan is Roland Freyer, the wunderkind featured in the magazine section of the NY Times.

The Department has strict requirements when it comes to research projects. One wonders whether the researcher obtained parental consent?

The 29 year old Freyer leads the American Inequality Laboratory at Harvard University and has produced an amazing array of research papers.

This isn’t Freyer’s first experiment in our schools. The NYTimes describes an experiment in PS 70X whereby students were offered a “small prize” for improving by a certain percentage on a reading test. This was followed by an experiment with fifteen schools in Harlem. The principals, at a meeting with Freyer asked, “What happens next year when they aren’t being paid? Won’t students in other grades be resentful? What will parents think when kids start receiving cash in the mail every few weeks?” The answers are not reported.

Similar experiments were conducted with KIPP Charter Schools and are currently being conducted in the Dallas School System.

In an Esquire  article Freyer derides the range of programs designed to close the Black-White achievement gap, that in his view have failed to close the gap. So, Freyer asks a number of questions,

First, do monetary incentives improve academic performance?

Second, do monetary incentives for academic performance curb other risky behavior or increase motivation?

Third, do group reward systems improve performance more than individual reward systems?

Fourth, what student demographics gain most from individual and group incentives programs?

Fifth, what are the long-term effects of incentive programs?

Freyer proffers that paying students will be a “powerful incentive for third graders.”

Ultimately Freyer seems to want to create an environment “… were achievement is celebrated and provides the correct incentives for students to tutor one another.”

Freyer ignores the impact of his experiment on the lives of his experimental subjects. 

What is disturbing is the nonchalance of Klein.

Should “experiments” be conducted on our children without the informed consent of every parent? Shouldn’t principals and teachers have to agree to participate in an experiment? What will be the impact of the experiment on the kids? Will this experiment create kids who want to learn for the love of learning, or for the love of cash, who are curious learners or pecuniary learners?

Once again Klein and his ilk ignore that child are living and breathing sentient human beings – not guinea pigs in cages.

Roland Freyer may be a renown Afro-American social scientist – his casual attitude, ignoring parents, teachers and the impact on students, unfortunately, smacks of the Tuskeegee experiments.


One response to “KLEIN’S LATEST: Pay for Performance – For Kids! Is the “Love of Learning” the “Old” Paradigm? Is “Bribing” Kids “the Answer” for Low Income Children?

  1. Pingback: Does Paying Kids for Test Scores “Smack” of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment? « Extra Credit

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