I Would Like to Buy an A, Please

I’m in favor of incentives in education (public or otherwise). As humans, we function according to incentives, whether they be positive or negative. This one is supposed to be positive, but it tastes negative:

A $20 donation to Rosewood Middle School [in North Carolina] would have gotten a student 20 test points – 10 extra points on two tests of the student’s choosing. That could raise a B to an A, or a failing grade to a D.

Susie Shepherd, the principal, said a parent advisory council came up with the idea, and she endorsed it. She said the council was looking for a new way to raise money.

“Last year they did chocolates, and it didn’t generate anything,” Shepherd said.

Tell me again why schools need to do fund-raising at all? (Sorry, that’s an unrelated question. I’ll try to get into that later.) Thankfully, it would seem that someone did see this for the very poor idea it was.

Garland said exchanging grades for money teaches children the wrong lessons. She also said it is bad testing practice and is unfair to students whose parents can’t pay.

“If a student in college were to approach a professor to buy a grade, we would be frowning on that,” Garland said. “It might even be a reason for dismissal. We’re teaching kids something that if they were to do it later, they could get in trouble for.”

Students should know that test grades are based on what they’ve learned, and parents need to have a true picture of how their child is performing in class, Garland said.

Good for them in getting it right at the district level. The fact that someone, anyone, who was responsible for teaching students thought this was a good idea, however, still boggles the mind.