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Students paid for grades find value beyond money

Posted by gradefund on December 12, 2008

Students paid for grades find value beyond money

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 05/16/08

The money was nice, but it wasn’t what kept Jailyn Brown in a pilot program that paid students $8 an hour to study.

The 14-year-old eighth grader was among a small group of Fulton County students who took part in “Learn & Earn,” a privately funded after-school tutoring program with monetary rewards.

Jessica McGowan/AJC
Bear Creek student Oszie Sutton, 14, receives an appreciation award from Fulton County Commisioner Robb Pitts and Jackie Cushman, president of Learning Makes a Difference, during a celebration Tuesday held for students participating in the ‘Learn and Earn’ after-school study program at Creekside High School in Fairburn. The trial program paid students to study after school.

“It was his success that really got him excited,” said his mom, Alanna Taylor. “He got more benefit from his good grades than the money.”

Tuesday, more than 35 students celebrated the end of the 15-week pilot program. Parents and program supporters gathered to congratulate the students.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich sent a video by his daughter, Jackie Cushman, president of the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation board of directors.

He told students they are now “part of history,” and that the teachers, students and parents were the “heart of this experiment.”

Each student’s official results won’t be released until June or July, but Taylor said she has seen marked improvement in her son and his grades.

“There were concerns about him moving to the ninth grade in the beginning,” she said. “But not any more.”

Jailyn said he was once failing math and science, but now is passing both classes. “I’ve even got A’s and B’s in science,” he said.

The program, which began in January, was conducted at Bear Creek Middle and neighboring Creekside High. Twenty students from each school were in the trial group. Students barely making academic standards, or those performing below the mark in math and science, were picked for the first run.

Program administrators estimated three students dropped out of the program.

The initiative was funded by Charles Loudermilk, chairman and chief executive officer of Aaron Rents, through the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation, a local nonprofit designed to improve education. Loudermilk, who did not attend the celebration, committed the entire budget of $60,000.

Cushman didn’t say whether the program would survive past its pilot stage.

“Let’s just see what the results are and go from there,” she told the parents.

At the rate of $8 an hour or $32 a week, Jailyn and the other students had the chance to earn $480 by the end of the school year. The amount they actually earned was tied to their attendance and participation.

Taylor said Jailyn put a lot of his money in a savings account.

“We also used this opportunity to teach budgeting and how to spend money,” she said. “And in the end, he didn’t do it for the money. He did it for himself.”


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