Should we pay teens to take advanced high school courses?

Filed under: Teens, Day Care & Education

High school students participating in a pilot program in South Dakota get this deal: pass an advanced placement (AP) exam, and earn 100 bucks.

The program, supported by a grant from the National Science and Math Initiative, is designed to let rural students take AP classes (which earn college credit) online. Smaller schools aren't able to offer the classes as part of their regular curriculum, but students can tap into the material through an online course. Those electing to participate in the program will take the courses outside of regular school hours and in addition to their other academic responsibilities.

Proponents of the program hope that it will spark an interest in math, science and English for some of the students -- a spark that will lead them to high-demand careers in engineering, research, healthcare, and education.

There is no doubt that the program has excellent goals, but there is some question whether the cash for passing the exam is a good idea. Should we promote learning for learning's sake, or even for the sake of getting into a better college? Or is it fair to reward teens for academic excellence? On a more practical note, is the cash even necessary, since the program is likely to attract the most motivated students anyway?

What are your thoughts on paying students for outstanding performance?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.