With Harvard's Help, Good Grades Pay Off in Chicago

System rewards as much as $50 for A's—and half depends on graduation

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 17, 2008 1:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – Chicago public high schools are paying students for good grades under a program funded partly by Harvard University, the Tribune reports. Freshmen get $50 for A’s, $35 for B’s and $20 for C’s, with half their earnings held until they graduate. Some 20 other Chicago-area schools, encompassing about 1,650 students, are participating in the program, which also relies on private donations.

Students are understandably enthusiastic about the program, and it seems to be working: 86% of students at the top-achieving school took home some money during the last grading interval. Teachers say they’ve seen kids work harder for grades: “Getting a check is a really personal motivation. Students know if they work harder their personal checks will be bigger,” said one.

A program funded by Harvard and private donations promises students in Chicago public schools cash in exchange for A's, B's and C's, with half coming if they graduate.
A program funded by Harvard and private donations promises students in Chicago public schools cash in exchange for A's, B's and C's, with half coming if they graduate.   (AP Photo)
Ladarius Beal sits in his literature class at Julian High School on Chicago's South Side, March 10, 2008.
Ladarius Beal sits in his literature class at Julian High School on Chicago's South Side, March 10, 2008.   (AP Photo)
Getting a check is a really personal motivation, says the Harvard professor in charge of the Chicago program. Students know if they work harder their personal checks will be bigger.
"Getting a check is a really personal motivation," says the Harvard professor in charge of the Chicago program. "Students know if they work harder their personal checks will be bigger."   (AP Photo)
Huda Yasin studies a book at the Harnew School in Oak Lawn, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007.
Huda Yasin studies a book at the Harnew School in Oak Lawn, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Students line up for lunch at the Ariel Community Academy in Chicago, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008.
Students line up for lunch at the Ariel Community Academy in Chicago, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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