The school board in Huntsville, Alabama, has unanimously decided to pay students for achieving benchmark scores on the ACT college admissions test in an effort, members said, to get kids to take the test more seriously.

WHNT News voted Tuesday night for the cash incentives, which will work this way: Benchmarks scores will be set, and for each part of the test that the students hit the benchmark, $50 will be paid. If the student gets an overall score of 22 or higher — out of a total 36 — an extra $100 will be awarded.

Superintendent Casey Wardynski was quoted as saying:

The ACT is important. It’s important for our kids but they may not all realize it because they’re taking it junior year, or some may not think they’re going to college or want to have that test under their belt for when they do choose to go to college.

What does the district get out of it? School board member Laurie McCaulley was quoted as saying:

What parents wouldn’t want their children in a school system where the kids are making above the national average and then scholarship opportunities will come in?

They really think that that this is going to draw people to Huntsville?

Paying students for grades, test scores, school attendance, etc., is nothing new; some schools routinely do it. Proponents say it gives kids an incentive to try to do well in school; critics say that it robs kids of a real desire to learn and doesn’t work over the long term, and often not in the short term either. Even if it did work, which it mostly doesn’t, what’s going to happen when the money runs out?