The National Journal ran a piece last week on paying students for increased test scores.

I was pleased to see a number of thoughtful responses criticizing the idea, and disappointed to see what people said in support.

I couldn’t say it any better than Bob Peterson (from one of my favorite magazines, Rethinking Schools) did:

Yes, motivation is a key to learning. I see that every day with my fifth graders, but motivation should flow from the quality of curriculum, the nature of the learning activities, the connectedness of the curriculum to the lives of the students, and the overall school experience.

I suggest that districts that have so much money that they can have programs to pay students for higher test scores, instead spend the money on making sure that all students have a full complement of physical education, visual arts, music, drama, dance, and library instruction as well as classroom teachers who are skilled at creating engaging learning activities.