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Should You Get Paid for A’s?

Some schools give students money for academic success. Is cash the best way to motivate students and prepare them to work for paychecks, or should this idea get an F?

YES: Paying for grades could help students stay in school.

Dylan: In an ideal world, all students would be motivated to work hard at school by a sheer love of learning. However, in reality, there are many competing demands taking students’ attention away from school. As a result, many teens can’t make school a priority. For example, some teens need to have after-school jobs to help support their families. If it comes down to making money at their job or studying for a test, they may have no choice but to focus on their job. They might even wind up dropping out of school to work full-time. If these students could earn money for academic success, they might be more motivated to stay in school and work hard. The stronger the incentives teens have to do well academically, the more likely they are to get a good education, which will set them up for getting a good job once school is over.

—Dylan Mondrus, a high school junior

NO: Students should be motivated by learning, not money.

Simone: Back when I was in elementary school, my parents used to pay me $10 for every A I received on my report card. While 9-year-old me was excited to buy new Barbies, 17-year-old me wonders if being paid for my grades was really a good idea. Now I believe that paying students for their grades undermines the value of learning and places a dangerous emphasis on results rather than effort.

Though a report card certainly looks impressive when it’s filled with A’s, that shouldn’t be the only goal. What truly matters is that students try their best. When schools pay students for grades, they take away teens’ internal motivation to do well. Students might do the minimum amount of work they can get away with and still get an A, as opposed to thoroughly learning the material. As a result, they’ll be less prepared for life after school.

—Simone Graziano, a high school senior in New Jersey

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