Pay Grade: Kids Get Cash for Marks

Study shows kids perform better when they're paid

The more these kids learn, the more they earn.

A new cash-for-grades scheme is giving kids cash for getting good grades -- and studies show it's improving the way middle-schoolers perform.

Students who participate in the Sparks program in New York City, which pays seventh-graders up to $500 for their performance on state tests and in the classroom, showed a 40 percentage point jump in reading and math scores, the New York Post reported.

"It's an ego booster in terms of self-worth," Rose Marie Mills, principal at MS 343 in Mott Haven, told the Post.

"When they get the checks, there's that competitiveness -- 'Oh, I'm going to get more money than you next time' -- so it's something that excites them."

The more than 8,000 kids in the program have earned over $1.25 million collectively in the two years the Harvard University-based program has been active.

The kids say the cash incentive gives them a reason to study -- and something to look forward to when the school day ends.

"It's all we talk about," said Alize Cancel, a 13-year-old at IS 286 in New York City who has earned $180 in the program.

"Every day we ask our teachers, 'Did we pass? When do we get paid?' " she said. "It made me study more because I was getting paid."

Similar programs that will trade cash for good grades are set to be launched in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

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