May 20th, 2009

Indiana Plays the Number Game

Superintendent of Public Instruction in Indiana, Tony Bennett, wants to do something about the state’s low 78 percent high school graduation rate.

Tony BennettNext year he will use Department of Education funds to pay for $20,000 in staff bonuses to each of the 10 schools with the most improved high school graduation rates. Two schools with enrollments of fewer than 300 students would receive $10,000 each.

Incentive pay — paying students, teachers, and parents for achieving particular milestones — has been experimented with in various ways across the country and the jury is still out about its effectiveness. (When we visited Ohio last year, we asked 12-year-old Josh Ackley what he thought.)

Mark Shoup, spokesman for the Indiana State Teachers Association, said that paying teachers differently sets up unnatural competition among educators within schools and has the potential to hurt children’s educations.  But the union’s bigger concern is that it doesn’t require districts to use an approach to boost graduation rates that is backed by solid research.

We want to make sure we have a program that is going to have sustainability and work long-term for kids,” Shoup said, “and bring the rate up for not just one year but five years or 10.”

State will pay schools to increase grad rates []

Related Program: Pay for Grades [Video]

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