OT: Paying Kids For Grades in HS

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Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 11, 2009 - 4:57pm

I'm considerering paying my kid for grades. I was thinking $100 for an A, $15 for a B, minus $80 for less than a B, $200 Bonus for straight A's. Eight classes: minimum zero, max $1,000. Good idea or bad idea?

Submitted by an on June 11, 2009 - 5:03pm.

Everybody have a different parenting style. What does your gut tell you? I personally wouldn't pay them for their grades. It's expected out of them. If they don't get an A, they'll get their perks reduced. Just like I don't believe in paying them to clean their room. They're expected to help clean the house and the dishes.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 11, 2009 - 5:11pm.

I think he'll do better if he's paid. More important, I think i'll have to hassle him less.

Submitted by an on June 11, 2009 - 5:12pm.

scaredycat wrote:
I think he'll do better if he's paid. More important, I think i'll have to hassle him less.

I don't believe in hassling either. I just do it. If my kid doesn't get an A, certain perks will be taken away until they'll get the A back.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 11, 2009 - 5:15pm.

he doesnt get much int he way of perks

Submitted by an on June 11, 2009 - 5:17pm.

scaredycat wrote:
he doesnt get much int he way of perks

So he can't watch TV, talk on the phone, play games, go out w/ friends, cars (if he's old enough), go on the internet?

Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 11, 2009 - 5:18pm.

we don't own a tv. no car. doesnt go out much w/friends, just one friend. doesn't talk on the phone. he likes to read, we could prohibit reading, we've tried that in the past. we have internet. i guess i could take that away. i doubt that would motivate him though.

Submitted by an on June 11, 2009 - 5:21pm.

scaredycat wrote:
we don't own a tv. no car. doesnt go out much w/friends, just one friend. doesn't talk on the phone. he likes to read, we could prohibit reading, we've tried that in the past. we have internet. i guess i could take that away. i doubt that would motivate him though.

Have you tried asking him why he's not getting those A's?

Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 11, 2009 - 5:24pm.

it's his first year, 9th grade. ungraded previously...

Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 11, 2009 - 5:24pm.

delete

Submitted by an on June 11, 2009 - 5:29pm.

Maybe he just need more tutoring or take easier classes? Seems like he doesn't have very much distraction. Which means he's not understanding material very well. Unless he's doing something else other than studying.

Submitted by svelte on June 11, 2009 - 5:52pm.

I tried the exact thing you're talking about, with very similar dollar values you've put forth.

The results were mixed.

One child did have a noticeable improvement for a half-year to a year, then things went back to As and Bs, just like they had been before. Very smart kid who just put forth the effort in subjects that were appealing, basically.

The other child was intrigued by the idea and I saw a blip upward for a little while, but that was about it....returned to Bs and Cs.

My take on it: a grading interval is way too long to be much of an incentive...the carrot is too far out there for most kids. I think your purpose would be better served if you gave $$ for every test they took. Of course, this would mean working closely with the teacher to determine what tests would be given and to ensure tests weren't "manufactured" to pad their wallet, but I think this arrangement would work better. And if they do well on all the individual tests, the better grade in the entire course will follow.

Submitted by Coronita on June 11, 2009 - 6:44pm.

scaredycat wrote:
we don't own a tv. no car. doesnt go out much w/friends, just one friend. doesn't talk on the phone. he likes to read, we could prohibit reading, we've tried that in the past. we have internet. i guess i could take that away. i doubt that would motivate him though.

Reading is a good thing...Really, especially in southern california....You should encourage him to read more....What particular subject(s) is he do you think he is not doing well in?

I think you need to figure out if he "isn't doing well" as you describe is because (a) he is disinterested or (b) because he is having a hard time on subjects. The later won't be solved by throwing money for different grades...he needs better tools for learning.

That said, I'm not sure in your case if the incentive you are proposing is going to work. From what you describe, your son seems like he's more on the introvert side...as he seems to like to stay home more, doesn't hang out with too many friends etc, so he probably doesn't have a pressing need to use money for any purpose.

If your son's motivation is the issue (versus learning difficulty), maybe the thing to do is to find your son more things to do. A hobby of some sort, photography, some sport, something. Encourage him to go out more..with friends....Because having a little *positive* peer pressure to want things/ do things might open some things up. Just got to find the right peers.

I got involved with computers and photography very young, the former was because I had friends that were into it. The later was so I could make a convenient excuse to take pictures of girls for the school yearbook. So money quickly became an issue when it came to getting gear (computers were $3k those days)...

Just be very very careful with how you word your incentives. My dad offered to buy me an Apple IIe if I scored a goal in my AYSO league (I was the second to the worst player). 4th game in, I did....on my own team's goalie.. by accident....He never specified which side to score....He ended up ponying up the computer and never made any such deal with me again....

Submitted by an on June 11, 2009 - 6:52pm.

flu wrote:

Just be very very careful with how you word your incentives. My dad offered to buy me an Apple IIe if I scored a goal in my AYSO league (I was the second to the worst player). 4th game in, I did....on my own team's goalie.. by accident....He never specified which side to score....He ended up ponying up the computer and never made any such deal with me again....

OMG, I'm literally LOL reading this, picturing what your dad's face look like at the moment.

Submitted by Allan from Fallbrook on June 11, 2009 - 7:15pm.

AN wrote:
flu wrote:

Just be very very careful with how you word your incentives. My dad offered to buy me an Apple IIe if I scored a goal in my AYSO league (I was the second to the worst player). 4th game in, I did....on my own team's goalie.. by accident....He never specified which side to score....He ended up ponying up the computer and never made any such deal with me again....

OMG, I'm literally LOL reading this, picturing what your dad's face look like at the moment.

FLU: Yup. Been there, done that. My dad had a deal with me throughout high school that whatever amount I put into savings from summer job(s), he would match, dollar for dollar, at the end of summer.

I wound up working on a friend's dad's tuna boat over a summer and was making $18/hr + a bonus. I wound up banking damn near $5k (and I still had a blowout summer in terms of partying) and the look on his face was priceless when I showed him my savings account balance at the end of summer.

He was good to his word, though, and wrote me a check. Wrote me a check with his teeth gritted, I should say.

Submitted by beanmaestro on June 11, 2009 - 9:08pm.

Wow, grade payments have gone up! In the 80's, I got $10-20 for an A, nothing for B's or less. I think my wife got $10's for A's, $1 for B's, and a $100 bonus for straight A's.

I always figured that going to school is the kid's job, and it's fine to pay them for doing it well.

Submitted by Coronita on June 11, 2009 - 9:55pm.

svelte wrote:
I tried the exact thing you're talking about, with very similar dollar values you've put forth.

The results were mixed.

One child did have a noticeable improvement for a half-year to a year, then things went back to As and Bs, just like they had been before. Very smart kid who just put forth the effort in subjects that were appealing, basically.

The other child was intrigued by the idea and I saw a blip upward for a little while, but that was about it....returned to Bs and Cs.

My take on it: a grading interval is way too long to be much of an incentive...the carrot is too far out there for most kids. I think your purpose would be better served if you gave $$ for every test they took. Of course, this would mean working closely with the teacher to determine what tests would be given and to ensure tests weren't "manufactured" to pad their wallet, but I think this arrangement would work better. And if they do well on all the individual tests, the better grade in the entire course will follow.

Don't worry, the B's and C's students probably end up making excellent managers in corporate america. Seriously.

Submitted by meadandale on June 12, 2009 - 6:46am.

Paying for grades...seriously?

This is what our society has devolved to? Bribing our children? Personally it's sickening...

Submitted by propertysearcha... on June 12, 2009 - 7:51am.

My husband's family paid their children for grades and half of them ended up going to college.

My parents took us out one on one to dinner at Sizzler. It was quite the place 20 years ago. :) Can you believe that was enough to feel special and rewarded? All 5 children got A's and all 5 graduated from college and beyond.

Spending time helping kids with homework will go a lot farther than $1,000 bribe.

I was a H.S. teacher and even though kids say they want "stuff" what they really want is love and attention. It isn't always easy, I still remember my mom making me finish "The Odyssey" before I could go to Volleyball camp. I hated it but kids need that sometimes.

Submitted by WaitingToExhale on June 12, 2009 - 7:53am.

scaredycat wrote:
I'm considerering paying my kid for grades. I was thinking $100 for an A, $15 for a B, minus $80 for less than a B, $200 Bonus for straight A's. Eight classes: minimum zero, max $1,000. Good idea or bad idea?

Man, in the 80's I got $10 total for straight A's and got grounded if I didn't get straight A's. Sucked to be me, I guess.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 12, 2009 - 8:28am.

what about attention, workign with them, PLUS money.

why is it morally objectionable to pay for grades?

I do not to check for additional oddball contingencies. I have a clause about grade appeals, also one for grade errors later retracted by school. Maybe a clause about changed grading systems? i could get screwed if they change the system so A=Awful, B=Better, C= High Cuality, and D=Dang!You good!

Submitted by Coronita on June 12, 2009 - 8:32am.

scaredycat wrote:
what about attention, workign with them, PLUS money.

why is it morally objectionable to pay for grades?

I do not to check for additional oddball contingencies. I have a clause about grade appeals, also one for grade errors later retracted by school. Maybe a clause about changed grading systems? i could get screwed if they change the system so A=Awful, B=Better, C= High Cuality, and D=Dang!You good!

Prbably need a clause about cheating or gaming the system too.... If you need examples, I'll be happy to share with you some of the things kids did/do to avoid subjects they hated but nevertheless wanted an A.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 12, 2009 - 8:35am.

if they're caught cheating, they won't get an A. If they cheat and don't get caught they're not likely to turn themselves in. I don't have a problem with gaming the system, if it's done within the rules, which is what i consider gaming the system. why shouldn'tone be rewarded for properly gaming the system?

Also--how is money different from a 'reward" ata nite at sizzler, or even praise? Theya re just varying forms of motivators. Does the lucre somehow contaminate the purity of the mission? if so, is there any purity tot he type of learning that actually goes on -- stacks ofmeaningless homework, etc...maybe i need to pay more...

Submitted by Coronita on June 12, 2009 - 8:47am.

scaredycat wrote:
if they're caught cheating, they won't get an A. If they cheat and don't get caught they're not likely to turn themselves in. I don't have a problem with gaming the system, if it's done within the rules, which is what i consider gaming the system. why shouldn'tone be rewarded for properly gaming the system?

Also--how is money different from a 'reward" ata nite at sizzler, or even praise? Theya re just varying forms of motivators. Does the lucre somehow contaminate the purity of the mission? if so, is there any purity tot he type of learning that actually goes on -- stacks ofmeaningless homework, etc...maybe i need to pay more...

Personally, I don' think it's morally objectionable about "enticing" a kid a bit here and there, but again, in your son's case, what does he plan to do with the money? That's why I'm thinking it might not work...Maybe a better option would be to figure out what he likes, and subsidize his purchase(s) based on how he does along with a (small) allowance to do regular choirs. (Little lessons in money management at an early age isn't a bad thing anyway..In fact, it's probably a good thing in america.)

Imho, again, I think the important thing here is more about a lesson of developing work habits versus the raw "A". Not knowing the details of your son, I can't tell if he has work habits but having a hard time OR if he just doesn't have good work habits.

True, almost everyone games the system to varying degrees, but I'd be concerned if you son tries to game everything and shows no interest in one particular thing. And you probably don't want to encourage that sort of behavior because it sets a presidence for his future...Admittedly, I sort of circumvented a good portion of early English literature because I hated reading those books and much rather spend my time on science/math/computers...I survived on cliff notes and movie versions of the the books even though teachers warned explicitly don't count on those aids alone because my tests are designed to weed out people that only read those cliff notes/watch the movie (which was bullshit, because I did better than those people that actually read the books and didn't use those aides.) In hindsight, I missed out on a lot of great work written in the past and is probably why I am sort of off balanced when it comes to worldly knowledge....

Submitted by UCGal on June 12, 2009 - 8:50am.

I'm a big believer that parents have to figure out what works for their family and their kids. If this works, great.

I'm also of the mind that just carrots or just sticks won't do it for most kids - you need carrots ($ in this case) and sticks (removal of privileges).

I think the idea that it's too long of a period is a valid one. Perhaps you can arrange with the guidance counselor to get monthly status updates.

I was the "bright but lazy" student - and that's what my dad did - if the monthly report showed I was underperforming he cracked down - I could do NOTHING but homework and extra studying. One month of that and I was back on track.

At the time I thought my dad was the meanest dad on the planet - in hindsight, I know he was doing it because he cared and wanted me to achieve my potential.

But - if paying for grades works - great. What is your backup plan if it doesn't work?

Submitted by temeculaguy on June 12, 2009 - 9:11am.

Can he buy a television with the money? How does he watch sports?

O.K. here's a happy alternative, it has a financial angle but it's more about attention and it sprinkles in some peer pressure. You have to pick the reward based on your own kid and what they and their friends enjoy. Let's say your kid likes a particular activity (amusement park, paintball, padre game, manicure/pedicure, etc.), you make a deal with them that they can take a friend or two or three (depending on if they have one good friend or two, etc. whatever their posse consists of), if they get straight A's, you will take and pay for their friends to go to that activity. You let this deal be known throughout the semester to their friends by casually bringing it up at times. Now their friends encourage them because they have a vested interest, they get a chance at being the hero, if they reach their goal they get the praise from their peers, for teenagers it's as important as your praise. At some point during the activity or day, raise your soda cup and toast your kid with their friends for making the day possible for everyone. You were probably going to do that activity anyway, but now it gets a little meaning.

Maybe it motivates them, maybe it doesn't. I do know one thing, I love getting a pedicure and as a heterosexual middle aged man there are limited opportunities so I root for her to pull a 4.0 along with her pals. Last night we confirmed online that she nailed it and I made the appointment, woohooo! Spa Takeover!!

Submitted by evolusd on June 12, 2009 - 9:11am.

I wasn't paid as a kid, but I will definitely consider it for our children. Seems to make sense to me...the harder you work, the more you are rewarded. That's how real life is, right?

Although it will only work if you don't spoil your kids by buying them whatever they want...that would take all the incentive out of it.

Submitted by davelj on June 12, 2009 - 9:13am.

I think the idea of paying for grades is built upon a false premise: that grades matter.

Lots of kids get good grades but don't really learn. They just know how to game the system of tests. While that may get them into a "good" college, it is meaningless in the long term.

In the long term, what matters - and it can't really be taught or coerced into a child - are two things: (1) the fundamental intellectual curiosity of the person (intellectually curious people figure out ways to learn about things - inside or outside of school), and (2) inner discipline (that is, a willingness to bear down and work, even when you'd rather not). If you're not curious about the world and/or are unwilling to put in the work... your grades will get you nowhere.

My brother was a poor student in high school. He was very intellectually curious - read like a madman - but had no discipline for school. He ended up deciding on his own that he needed discipline and went to a military college where he did very well. Then on to a prominent law school and now he's a federal prosecutor. My point is that his grades up until the time he graduated from high school sucked ass. But it all turned out pretty well in the end because he eventually figured out on his own that he needed to develop discipline.

In my opinion, focusing on grades is placing too much focus on the trees, as opposed to the forest.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 12, 2009 - 9:26am.

sorry, no tv. that's covered under a separate household rule.

i see that there has to be pain and pleasure mixed in. i figure the penalties can come along the way; do your homework today or [insert negative consequence] ...

calendar outthe semester witha countdown toward tetsing/paper dates....

work with him to get things done...have a battle plan of what's done when...

he's an odd duck. don't know that there's a particular activity that would inspire him. he's very resistant to punishment. We have a legendary family story where he was once given a "time out" in early elementary school and told to stand outside the door to the classroom outside. The teacher forgot about him and realized she hadn't heard from him for sveeral hours. He was contentedly sitting on the floor watching ants. He would probably do better than the average person in solitary confienemnt, so normal deterrents may not work...

i agree with the unimportance of grades. and yet...school today is different than it was when we were growing up. the homework is punishingly, noxiously overbearing. it is much more like a job, much more like a factory. grades may not matter in any real sense, or even in how one "turns out", but ont he other hand, society sees more punishing and less forgiving of all failures now than it used to.

plsu, just financially, good grades can serve to reduce future education costs. that seems to be worth something.

i mean, if yoou're on the fence between an a and a B, and some money can push the kid to the A, is that actually damaging the kid?

why is it one exteme or the other? what if you're a kid who's curious, who's naturally lazy, who's fairly smart, whoc ould do well if pushed a bit, who's liekly to be a middle class professional type at the end of the day whether he realizes it or not, whose family is supportive regardless but wouldn't mind him going to a cheaper, better UC school...why not try to set up a system that tends to push him toward that? So that he can"figure it all out on is own"? maybe that's the only way to do it. but clearly we don't raise oour kids in such a way that they figure everything out ont heir own. we set up their whole lives basically to instill what we think is important in them and to get them to behave basically how we want.

Submitted by Coronita on June 12, 2009 - 9:38am.

scaredycat wrote:
he's an odd duck. don't know that there's a particular activity that would inspire him. he's very resistant to punishment. We have a legendary family story where he was once given a "time out" in early elementary school and told to stand outside the door to the classroom outside. The teacher forgot about him and realized she hadn't heard from him for sveeral hours. He was contentedly sitting on the floor watching ants. He would probably do better than the average person in solitary confienemnt, so normal deterrents may not work...

You mention he stays home a lot. What does he do? You mention he likes to read a lot. What does he read? What does he talk about? What does he and his friend like to do?

Submitted by sdduuuude on June 12, 2009 - 10:01am.

My favorite topic but I'm late to the party.
Lots of good thoughts in there.

I have no issues with the idea of paying for grades, but I'm not sure it is going to work.

If you have a kid who has been given allowance his whole life and makes his own decisions about money and understands the value of money (i.e. he isn't coming to mom and dad every time he needs something), then it might work, but I'd be surprised if such a kid had trouble with grades anyway.

If you have a kid who isn't used to handling his own money and he has to ask his parents to buy them things, then the pay-for-grades concept isn't going to work because they will have no clue what $1000 means.

I say give him a chance to succeed on his own first, without the incentive. If he is struggling, try to understand why and react accordingly. I think it is better for him to get self-motivated A's and B's than cash-motivated A's only.

I'd suggest not paying for grades the first year. See how the grades are to start with. Maybe he'll be a scholastic star and you will have more concerns about his social skills. In that case, Temecula's idea of giving rewards that are based on socializing is especially good.

For the first year of HS, avoid buying stuff other than food and basic clothes for him, give an allowance based on housework and see what he spends the money on. Once you give your kids the freedom to buy stuff with their own money, you learn quickly what they love (maybe ant farms ?) and then you either can use those things as incentive, or additional money.

Commincation by you to understand what motivates him is the key. Sounds like you don't really know, which is OK, but taking time to find out will serve you better than assuming cash will do the trick.

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