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Incentives: Time To Do The Math

Opening Doors Program rewards performance on Advance Placement Tests

Hartford Courant

February 16, 2009

Courant Columnist Rick Green has called our attention to a privately funded program called "Project Opening Doors" that ought to be given the old college try.

It is an initiative to improve performance of so-called underrepresented students in math, science and English. The ultimate goal is to boost their chances of success in college. The program offers modest financial incentives to both students and teachers if they get high marks on Advance Placement tests in those subjects.

Financial incentives in the classroom may be unorthodox. But a state that has spent billions trying to close the achievement gap between low-income minorities and their suburban white peers with limited success can't afford to turn its back on promising strategies.

Project Opening Doors, part of the National Math and Science Initiative, has worked in Texas. Nine high schools in Connecticut have a chance to participate, thanks to private grants and the efforts of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, which runs the program here.

Predictably, teachers unions are trying to stop it. They don't like the idea of some teachers being specially rewarded. One arbitrator even called it "an insult to teachers."

Well, if giving teachers a bonus for achieving what has so far been elusive, bring it on. What's insulting to teachers is the notion that one size fits all.

Financial incentives are a fixture in the business world. If they can be a catalyst for success in school and a tool to better train the state's future workforce, what's the harm?

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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