Using incentives to motivate both students and parents

Too many decisions in fields from education to business to philanthropy are made without any scientific basis. In order to gather some evidence you have to try some pretty wild ideas, like this one:

With $10 million from hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin, List will track the results of more than 600 students– including 150 at this school. His goal is to find out whether investing in teachers or, alternatively, in parents, leads to more gains in kids’ educational performance.

…List will “monitor the students through annual tests, attendance records and graduation rates. As the students move into adulthood, their employment, pay and criminal records, if any, will also be tracked. While early results from the experiment may be published as soon as this year, the project has money to follow the students ‘until they die,’ List says.” List plans to experiment with using incentives to motivate both students and parents; he successfully used incentives (a trip to Disney World) to potty-train his daughter.

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