For students in the 58 schools that participate in the Advanced Placement Incentive Program (APIP), good grades have never been so exciting. For those of us who remember our rebellious days, that sounds like an impossibility — the looming threat of college applications and the pressure of parents often makes you less inclined to go for an A+. So, APIP took a different approach. Since 1996, the organization has been offering cash incentives to kids in disadvantaged schools who earn an AP test score of three or higher. The rewards range from $100 to $500 and are funded in majority by private donors.
Of course, the program has generated some critical reviews. The concept of paying young students to perform well on exams is controversial to some educators and parents. But, a working paper from Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research reveals the short and longterm benefits of the program. Participating schools reported the number of students taking an AP course increased by 21%. Students passing an AP exam grew by 45%. The paper also reports a higher probability of students who will graduate, continue on to college, and secure higher paying jobs. And, the reward can't hurt the young scholars' egos, either. After all, amidst all the braces, acne, and voice cracks of high school, high schoolers can catch a break.