Paying for progress on HSAs
After several hours of reporting yesterday, I finally learned what the "incentives" line item in last night's city school board presentation meant: The system is going to pay kids who have failed at least one previous High School Assessment for improvement in their scores, up to $110 each.
The meaning seemed to be lost on some of the board members, too, judging by their discussion at the meeting. Afterwards, when I asked Dr. Alonso about the strategy, his reply was, "Why not?" He's willing to try anything to motivate kids at risk of dropping out or being denied a high school diploma. The nearly $1 million for incentives is part of a $6.3 million pot -- money previously entangled in a bureaucratic mess that was freed up for the city school system's use by the state -- for a variety of interventions to help students who are struggling on the graduation tests. Also in that pot is about $700,000 for peer tutoring and college student tutoring.
Nancy Grasmick signed off on the plan despite concerns about the lack of research to support financial incentives for students. (The system will survey all the students impacted to see what kind of effect the incentive offer has.) Alonso says that, in a nation where the majority of urban school systems are failing, he's got to take some risks.
I'm sure you folks will have plenty of opinions on this one... Is paying students to do well on a test a risk worth taking?