Pay Low-Income Students to Study? Still No Improvement, Alas


The Daily News is reporting today that it still doesn’t pay to be be poor, even if you’re paid for being poor.

The Department of Education has been participating in a Harvard study that paid economically poor students at high-needs schools to show up for tests and get good grades. The study looked at 261 schools in four cities, including 58 in New York, to see if providing financial incentives would improve student performance.

Even though fourth graders could earn up to $250 and seventh graders up to $500, the News reports that “students who were paid showed no significant improvement on math or English tests compared to their unpaid peers.”

It’s the second blowout for this kind of financial hypothesis in the past couple of weeks. The city also recently announced that after a three-year trial study, it was not going to continue with a controversial program that paid the poor for good behavior.

While the Times says the program had some modest success (specifically among “high school students who met basic proficiency standards before high school”), like the Harvard study ” the elementary and middle school students who participated made no educational or attendance gains.” Overall, the educational, health, and financial gains of the program did not merit its continuation.