Granting monetary awards for earning passing marks on Advanced Placement (AP) tests? Sound too good to be true?
For the first year in AP classes, students at both Salem and Green Run High Schools in Virginia Beach have the opportunity to receive an ultimate incentive: the green stuff! The concept behind such incentives derived from the Initiative for Military Families, “a Navy-backed public-private partnership” that is aimed at increasing student achievement in military-rich areas.
The military program is nationally implemented and is backed by many education scholars. The reasoning: AP courses better prepare students for college-course work.
The program aides in paying for AP test related expenses. It is a three-year grant where students have the opportunity to see a pay-day of $100 for each AP test on which they score a three out of five or higher. Teachers also gain incentives: $100 for every successful student.
The debate: Is it unfair to reward teachers merit-based pay from student achievement? Some agree, others disagree: the money could be spent in other areas of education that are more beneficial in the long-run. Hiring more teachers or investing in teacher-training programs are just two ways the extra money could be used.
Where does the money come from? 97% of the money comes from private companies like Exxon Mobile and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Although there may be controversy with providing teachers monetary award for student success, students probably work harder to achieve at least a three on the exam. Students are also typically given college course credit as well for such grades.
A monetary incentive of $100 for passing an AP exam with a three or higher has to be a huge motivator for high schools students. The pay-day surely trumps my allowance in high school.
As a graduate from the Virginia public school system, I have first-hand experience in taking an AP course and preparing for the examination (I took AP Statistics in high school). If I would have had a $100 incentive to pass the AP exam, let’s just say I would have tried slightly harder!
Is it bribery or is it an incentive? That is the question. Only time and results will tell!
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