Friday, August 29, 2008

Cash For School Performance in DC

I’m back in DC after spending the summer in California. To get ready for my return to DC/Baltimore I have been watching the fifth season of the Wire, I still have a few disks to go so don’t ruin the ending for me.

In the fifth season Baltimore mayor Tony Carcetti spends a lot of time worrying about Baltimore City schools test scores. One tool he never tried was paying students to do better on tests. This type of program has become popular recently in Latin America paying households cash on the condition that they attend school. On my recent trip to rural Oaxaca most families received government funds and now almost all children completely through 8th grade.

In the US the problems are slightly different. You can get the kids to go to school, but improving tests scores is harder. Last March I discussed how New York City is trying a program that pays students if they keep regular attendance, turn in homework, and pass state tests.

Now that program is coming to DC. Along with a randomized trial (students in 14 schools will receive money and will be compared with 14 similar schools in a control group that won’t) Also like NYC Ronald Fryer, Harvard Economist, will be doing the analysis.

I look forward to seeing the results.

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