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Schools Start Offering Students Cash for Better Grades

Some schools across the country have launched new cash reward programs to improve students' test scores, despite concerns from some educators over what role money should lplay in children's motivation. John Tulenko of Learning Matters Television reports on the debate.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Now, a new way to raise test scores: by offering cash rewards for students who perform well. John Tulenko of Learning Matters Television, which produces education stories for the NewsHour, has our report.

  • JOHN TULENKO, Learning Matters:

    To gear up for this year's state test, South Lawn Elementary in Coshocton, Ohio, threw a pep rally. But this school had something more to excite students.

  • RALLY SPEAKER:

    We want the fourth-graders and the sixth-graders to remember that they have the opportunity to break the bank this year.

  • JOHN TULENKO:

    Students who do well on the upcoming state tests will get more than high scores. They'll get cash.

    How much money did you get?

  • STUDENT:

    A hundred dollars.

  • STUDENT:

    A hundred dollars.

  • JOHN TULENKO:

    Gina?

  • STUDENT:

    I got like $85.

  • STUDENT:

    I got $100.

  • JOHN TULENKO:

    Do you like it?

  • STUDENT:

    Of course.

  • JOHN TULENKO:

    Coshocton, a factory town in Appalachia, uses the promise of money to motivate students to do better on state tests.

    The idea has caught on in other places around the nation. New York City and Baltimore just launched pilot programs. And this fall, Exxon Corporation will pay students at 67 high schools in six states $100 for passing advanced placement exams.

  • TEACHER:

    The last time we talked, we talked about the Taj Mahal.

  • JOHN TULENKO:

    Coshocton's cash incentive program started in 2004. Inspired by a similar program in Africa, a local businessman put up $100,000 to pay for it. That was incentive enough for this cash-strapped city.

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