High School Offers Students Cash for Grades

And for reading a book.

The ultimate goal is laudable: inspire students to perform better and graduate with high marks, rather than slack during their senior year of high school. It is also no mystery that, despite what the left believes, offering incentives is a sure fire way to inspire positive results. There is something slightly disconcerting, however, about the idea that high school students should be rewarded monetarily for things like...reading a book.

Yet that is precisely the case for Michigan students enrolled in a new program called Champions of John Glenn, which offers students $200 per semester for improving their grades or setting goals like organizing an event or reading a book.

In addition to being able to earn $400 in a school year, the student with the highest percentage increase in his or her grade-point average will receive a one-year scholarship to the Wayne County Community College District or Schoolcraft College. Students already having a top grade of 4.0 can earn the money by setting different goals: organizing an event, taking a college entrance exam, reading a book or writing a paper.

The program is is funded by Glenn Shaw, a local businessman and Wayne Memorial High School graduate.   

"I just love this community," he stated.

"We just know kids are going to do so much better."

About 400 students at the nearly 1,800-student school have signed such contracts, modeled after a smaller program at nearby Wayne Memorial High School. Both schools are in the Wayne-Westland Community Schools district. Nearly all of the teachers at the school  — as well as other staff members such as custodians and the police liaison officer —  have signed on to become mentors. So has the district superintendent.

Meanwhile, school psychologist Lou Przybylski noted that, not surprisingly, paying students to improve their grades actually works because once their attention is grabbed, "there's a tendency to work much harder toward the goal."

The proof, proponents claim, is also apparent in the numbers, as 90 percent of students enrolled in the program at Wayne Memorial have either met or exceeded their grade-related goals. In addition, ACT scores have reportedly increased by roughly 1.5 percent. 

"The building culture has changed from one of apathy" to one that celebrates academic achievement, said Sean Galvin, the program's executive director.

Again, incentivizing performance is no new concept. Rewarding a job well done goes directly hand in hand with human nature. At the same time, it might be worth delving into what motivates successful students who are not monetarily compensated. Has society devolved to such a degree that we must now bribe students to simply read a book and apply themselves in school. Aren't scholarships and bright career-paths already incentive enough for students to achieve? Apparently, not. 

Issues