Want kids to score well on statewide tests?
Before they ask, "What's in it for me?" offer a prize for performance.
That's the thrust of a proposed state law passed this month by the Legislature and sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"What we're really looking at is recognition and motivation and incentive to achieve," said Sen. Elaine Alquist, a Santa Clara Democrat who proposed the measure.
Senate Bill 1709 would authorize and encourage school districts to provide nonmonetary incentives to middle and high school students for achievement or improvement on standardized tests.
Absolutely a stupid idea for reasons intuitively obvious except to the most stupid.
Local businesses could be asked to donate prizes, such as tickets to movies, concerts, restaurants or sporting events.
Few will try harder because they think they'll win a movie ticket. Kids who think they won't do well anyway certainly aren't going to try any harder.
This is one more data point for why we need a part-time legislature; the bill was sent to Governor Schwarzenegger. Fortunately he vetoed it.
In a veto message, the governor didn't reject the idea of doling out nonmonetary payola to kids who score high marks or show significant improvement on state tests. But he said no new law is needed...
"This bill is unnecessary since nothing in the current law prohibits a district from creating their own nonmonetary incentives for students today, even in the absence of this measure," Schwarzenegger said in his veto message.
At least Alquist isn't a total loser:
"This bill sparked the type of debate we need to have on the paradox with the STAR testing program – which is that schools, but not students, are held accountable based on the results," Alquist said in a statement Friday. "While I am disappointed the governor vetoed the bill, I plan to continue looking at ways to ensure that STAR tests are meaningful to both students and schools."
I'm not holding my breath, though.