A Cincinnati high school is paying its students to go to school.
The Dohn Community High School, a charter school in Ohio, started a program this week that would pay seniors $25 weekly and underclassmen $10 weekly in Visa gift cards for showing up to class every day, being on time and behaving in school. The move aims to encourage students to stay in school and graduate from the school where 90 percent of its students live in poverty. Fewer than 20 percent are in two-parent households.
"Money is important to them," school Chief Administrative Officer Ken Furrier told CBS Cleveland. "We can't teach them if they're not here."
Every week a student is paid, an additional $5 goes into a savings account, payable upon graduation. The program is being funded by $40,000 from several areas, including private donors and federal Workforce Investment Act dollars funneled through the Easter Seals, a community-based health agency, KMSP-TV reports.
"The target is graduation," Furrier told Reuters. "We do almost everything we can to get the kids to there."
Critics say the school is rewarding students for basic things students should be doing already, but at Dohn, "they're not doing it," Principal Ramone Davenport told KMSP-TV. "We've tried everything else."
Davenport tells the Associated Press that the program is already working and attendance is up.
Dohn was designated by the Ohio Department of Education as an "academic emergency" last year, with just a 14 percent graduation rate during the 2010-2011 academic year.
Schools in New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas have experimented with programs that pay students. Salem and Green Run High Schools in Virginia recently chose to pay students $100 for performing well on Advanced Placement exams.
A 2010 study by Harvard economist Roland Fryer found that though "money is not enough," it could be part of a solution to improve student performance. Strategically designed payments showed success in boosting performance.