Do Student Outcomes Improve When You Pay Parents to Help on Homework?

MONEY DOESN’T ALWAYS TALK: Noted Harvard economist Roland Fryer has shown that you cannot pay kids to get good grades. But what about parents? He, along with fellow economists Steven Levitt and John List, paid parents based on how their kids performed on benchmark tests and homework, and how often they attended student-parent sessions. Parents could earn up to $7,000 a year.

What they found: “a modest and statistically insignificant effect on cognitive scores and a large and statistically significant impact on noncognitive achievement” such as memory and self-control. Breaking down the results by race “reveals that Hispanic and White students do extremely well as a result of the intervention, but that Blacks gain nothing.” The trio offer several theories for this difference but find no conclusive explanation. Bloomberg offers a summary of the most significant findings.

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