In a signature transposition of business practice into the education environment, the Klein administration at the DOE has installed a range of mechanisms to pay people -- teachers, principals, and students, at selected schools -- for performance. Today's Times story challenges the merits of a $2 million REACH incentive program (for REwarding ACHievement). Guess what? The results are a mixed bag.
Turns out more high-school students took Advanced Placement exams, which can earn college credit for high-scoring students. Fewer students passed overall, but a fraction more scored at the highest level, 5.
Promoters beg more time to show stronger results; critics say there are better ways to spend that kind of (private) money, despite similar programs' rising popularity in schools nationwide. And you can bet that man-about-town Joel Klein will face sharp questions on the program in his three public appearances today, at a REACH briefing, an NAACP event in Brooklyn and a Teach for America welcome-teachers evening program. But a quote at the end of the story caught our eye: Kati Haycock, director of the DC-based Education Trust, says that "rich kids get paid for high grades all the time and for high test scores by their parents."
Do you pay your kids for good grades? Do you reward effort (trying hard) or outcomes (the grade itself)? And what's the line between motivation and bribe -- between incentive and payoff? We don't think parents have deep pockets for report-card shakedowns, but we could be wrong...