Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
With performance-based pay becoming popular as an attempt to improve teachers’ effectiveness and students’ grades, the Houston Independent School District is trying something similar with a twist: Parents could get paid as well. The pilot program, recently accepted by the HISD Board Trustees, will allow 5th graders and their parents earn cash incentives if parents get more involved with their child’s education and if the child masters math skills. The Houston Chronicle reports that in addition to students earning money for passing tests, parents could also earn $180 by attending nine parent-teacher conferences – bringing the possible parent-child total to $1,020 per school year. Only 25 schools will be selected by lottery to participate in the program. To enter the lottery, schools must first be identified for eligibility by the HISD for their low grade-level performance on state math tests. The program is funded by a $1.5 million private grant from a Dallas-based foundation. The Chronicle reports that other similar education pilots utilizing cash incentives have received mixed reviews.