PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fulton County students who completed Learn and Earn, a pilot program that paid participants to attend after-school tutoring, showed improved performances in math and science following the completion of the 14-week program. The participating students, eighth and eleventh graders from Bear Creek Middle School and Creekside High School in Fairburn, Ga., were chosen on the basis of low math and science achievement, as well as good attendance and behavior.
Learn and Earn began as an idea of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; was championed by Robb Pitts, Fulton County Commissioner; funded by Charlie Loudermilk, chairman and CEO of Aaron Rents; trialed by the Fulton County School System and the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation.
While many opponents believed that compensating students for attending tutoring sessions sent the wrong signal, the final report noted, "All of the students were excited about getting paid. One student stated, 'I treat it like I'm getting paid from my parents for good grades.' Another stated, 'It is fun to get paid for learning.' Another stated, 'It feels good. It motivates me to learn.' One high school student stated, 'It is like a job, you drag yourself in whether or not you feel like going.'"
As to their academic performance in math and science, Learn & Earn students outperformed similar students in a comparison group who did not receive pay or tutoring. Half of the Learn & Earn students improved in both math and science while only 20-30 percent of the comparison group improved in those subjects.
"At first I didn't like school, but now that I am bringing up my grades, I like school more and want to go to high school and college," said one eighth-grade program participant.
Charles Loudermilk funded the Learn & Earn program and its $60,000 budget through the Learning Makes a Difference Foundation. "If we could just take one kid and change their life, it's worth more than I'm paying," said Loudermilk.
During student/teacher focus groups conducted following the program's completion, students reported a more positive attitude about their academic experience and were optimistic about their abilities to improve further in the future. Students also reported elevated levels of self-confidence.
"The measurable improvement shown by the participating students is proof enough that the Learn and Earn model can and does work," said Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts, one of the developers of the program. "We have stimulated the students' interest in math, as well as their overall academic performance. We have met our objectives and look forward to opportunities to expand this program."
"It is exciting to see students improve their performance in math and science and become engaged in learning," said Newt Gingrich. "And as a father, I take special pride in noting that without the leadership, persistence and hard work of my daughter Jackie Cushman, this project would never have been completed, and these students would not have been helped."
"We're absolutely thrilled with the results of the Learn & Earn pilot program," said Jackie Cushman, president of Learning Makes a Difference Foundation. "It's great to see students responding, initially to the incentive of pay, and then to the hands-on tutoring. We noticed improvements not only academically but in their attitude towards learning, many of them saving the money from the program for their college education. This program would not have been possible without the support of the Fulton County School System, the principals of the schools involved and the master teachers who inspired the students to move forward and embrace learning."
The mission of the LMD Foundation is to accelerate and enhance knowledge through innovative learning programs:
-- By acting as an incubator of ideas.
-- By creating, implementing and testing new initiatives.
-- By providing funding and support to non-profit organizations and partners.
"Based on these initial results, we hope to bring the Learn & Earn program to a larger student population in the future to positively affect more lives," said Cushman. "The Learning Makes a Difference Foundation strives to find new ways to help students learn."
The results of the Learn and Earn program were evaluated by an independent research group, Emstar Research, Inc., more information regarding the study is available on www.lmdfoundation.org.