Monday, October 18, 2010

5000 pounds offered to students who fail A-levels

One school in the UK is so confident of its success rate that it is offering 5k to any student who doesn't pass their A-levels, conditional on them having good attendance and assignment submission records. The BBC reports "It is the latest example of cash or gift incentives being used in schools - either to encourage good behaviour or to discourage bad." At first glance, offering teenagers money to fail seems counterintuitive as an incentive for performance. But as a signal of the school's confidence in its quality, it clearly has some advantages. However, they should be careful. If I were the type of teenager who valued 5k over my education or if I was pretty sure I was going to fail anyway, then this school would look pretty appealing! Also, marginal teenagers might think that 5k is a lot of money and might also be discounting the future at a very high rate.


Kevin Denny said...

Since the incentives for the students go the wrong way what is the policy trying to achieve? Presumably it is trying to give itself an incentive to deliver good results i.e. it is volunteering to fine itself if it does a bad job? But it could achieve this without the negative effects on students by giving the money to someone else, like a charity.

Liam Delaney said...

It could also be possible that people do better when they have a safety net underneath them.

Martin Ryan said...

On a related note, Slate Magazine cover Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel's "appalling plan to pay students to quit college":

Thiel is cofounder of PayPal, an early investor in Facebook, and the president of Clarium Capital. According to the Slate article:

"The Thiel Fellowship will pay would-be entrepreneurs under 20 $100,000 in cash to drop out of school. In announcing the program, Thiel made clear his contempt for American universities which, like governments, he believes, cost more than they're worth and hinder what really matters in life, namely starting tech companies. His scholarships are meant as an escape hatch from these insufficiently capitalist institutions of higher learning."

A TechCrunch interview with Thiel is available to view here:

Kevin Denny said...

Leisure is a normal good in general so I would expect less effort. The Jack Charlton approach, of keeping them under pressure, is best (within reason) I reckon.