Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Little Bit of Bribery

I know, it's been almost two weeks since I posted. Frankly, I haven't really had anything to say. Really. Yes, it's hard to believe. You may even want to note it down somewhere and wave it at me when I'm in full stream later.

Today I ran across an article in the Times that may be of interest to the Worst Mamas Ever. It seems the New York school system is not above bribery to get those crucial No Child Left Behind scores. Some schools have been paying out money to kids who do well on tests. Apparently this relieves the stigma of doing well in class and lifts high scores into the realm of cool. Though it is still not as cool to get an A as it is to be the star basketball player. (Someone should probably point out that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are a lot richer than Michael Jordan.) The teachers get a bonus too since why should only the kids get their palms greased for good performance. It's not surprising that someone should have thought of it. After all, school funding is based on test scores, an arrangement that is not really any different. I did find myself wondering if this has caused the invention of even better methods of cheating. And it begs all the same questions as funding based on performance. What happens if the incentives are taken away? Do the scores go back to their abysmal level? It also doesn't seem to be an encouragement for kids to go to college. Though admittedly, pointing out that doing well in school can lead to a better paying job doesn't appear to work either. I suspect it will be years before we know how it all works out.

4 comments:

karen said...

Yeesh. Next thing you know, college applications will have a checkbox asking if a prospective student was paid to achieve a certain score on the SATS and there will be new scandals revolving around the weighting system of paid scores vs. unpaid scores related to admission. In my day, you did well in school so college would take you and you could move out. Guess that's just not enough anymore...

The Plaid Sheep said...

That had not occurred to me, but you're right. If I were on the admissions board of a college I would want to take the student who did not require paying to achieve.

Epiphany Alone said...

Once you've squashed a child's intellectual curiosity - and teaching at the lowest achieving student to get a certain standardized test score will do that - it becomes a problem motivating them to learn. Enrichment is the first item to be cut from school budgets because it's not furthering test scores (those kids would already get the right score) and a district's federal and state aid is tied into a score number.
It's scary stuff.

LMP said...

Paying children to achieve will only work temporarily. Extrinsic motivation is useful, but only when employed sporadically because it tends to cancel out the natural intrinsic motivation. Soon, the amount they're awarded won't be enough, ultimately, it won't mean a thing. Someday I hope we'll finally realize that these ridiculous, endless tests are the problem, not the teachers and students.