Friday, March 6, 2009

Offering Green for Grade$

No, the title of this blog entry doesn’t refer to a special program being offered just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Nor does it refer to an effort to improve the environment in or around schools. Instead, it refers to the title of a new program being piloted in Chicago’s schools that rewards students for the grades they earn. Green for Grade$ joins a growing number of programs that reward student grades, like the Capital Gains program in Washington, D.C. Still other districts are paying cash incentives for reading books (Dallas’s Earning By Learning program) and perfect attendance (see Chelsea High School’s Attendance Policy).

Some of these programs that are popping up are funded by taxpayers while others are funded by non-profits or corporations with a vested interest in improving the stock of local graduates. But what if your district or community is too cash-strapped to offer a program that pays performance incentives to kids? Or what if your district is doing well on state tests without offering such incentives?

Is there a better way?

Maybe our states should consider funding an alternative plan that rewards all kids as it encourages good grades and parent involvement. How about rewarding students’ good grades, perfect attendance, and other positive outcomes with “scholarship credits” that can be used to fund their future education at state colleges and universities? A plan like that would encourage students to focus, reward learning, encourage students to think ahead, and help offset future college tuition and fees, which are rising faster than American Idol’s TV ratings.

Granted, an incentive like this one is not immediate gratification, but it could offer encouragement to kids who are too aware that they’re going to need a ton of cash or a truckload of loans to fulfill their dreams of a college education. And it would ensure that parents will be there beside their kids -- encouraging them and monitoring grades and attendance -- because they will see the potential impact of this incentive on their own wallets.

More About Rewards
Have you seen my previous blog entry on the topic of rewards?
Who Said Rewards Don’t Work?

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