Incentive-Based Scholarship Program

January 16, 2008

Related to my previous post on education, Kevin Comeau describes his incentive-based scholarship program as follows:

Under the scholarship program, every child who successfully completes their homework more than 90 percent of the time over the course of the full school year would receive $500, and would receive an additional $250 if he or she attained an overall B average or an additional $500 if he or she attained an overall A average. 

There are a few things with this approach that concern me:

– Lack of child’s effort assessment
– Parental pressure to perform
– Homework completion

The program rewards a child’s grades however it neglects to reward the child’s effort in obtaining that grade.  For instance, a child may work and try as hard as they can and obtain a B average.  Another child with natural talent may not make nearly as large an effort as the B average child yet obtains an A average.  In this case, the program does not properly reward the B average child’s effort.  This can lead to a disinterest in school and learning since the child is not rewarded for their effort. 

Mr. Cowen argues that having an scholarship incentive-based program will motivate parents to become more involved in their child’s education.  He states that:

… parents … know the value of money; they know that $1,000 every year invested and compounded over twelve years can amount to a very large sum, every dollar of which reduces the amount of money the parent will have to pay for the child’s post-secondary education.

Exactly, parents know the value of money.  This form of motivation can go two ways: 

  1. Parents become more involved in their child’s education: making sure homework is done, concepts are understood etc. (the desired outcome)
  2. Parents remain disinterested in their child’s education, but now pressure the child to obtain an A average. 

I think there needs to be some component in this where the child only receives the money if a parent shows interest in their child’s education – this could be volunteering in the PTA, attending parent-teacher conferences etc. 

Finally, there is rewarding homework completion.  I think this needs to be better designed and incorporated with a child’s effort and grades.  I can see parents now doing their child’s homework just to bank an addition $500 for post-secondary education – especially if homework assignments are posted on-line. 

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