Huntsville City Schools To Offer Students Cash For ACT Success

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville City School Board members voted unanimously Tuesday night to offer a cash incentive to students who reach the benchmark scores on their ACTs.

It is a move meant to inspire students to apply themselves, while ensuring the district maintains an academic edge in the state.

"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," explained Superintendent Casey Wardynski.

For every component of the test the students reach a benchmark score on, the school will pay the student $50. If the student achieves an overall score of 22 or higher, they'll get an extra $100.

"They have the opportunity to get $300, but it will not be paid to them 'till they come back for their senior year," said school board member Laurie McCaulley.

Other than having to wait until their senior year to attain the money, there are no restrictions on how that money can be spent.

"Some students are saying it would help them with their senior fees, and mom and dad would like that," said McCaulley.

Dr. Wardynski says Huntsville is in the unique position where they are able to offer this type of monetary incentive. He believes it will add a sense of urgency and immediate reward for students who otherwise wouldn't take the ACT seriously.

And McCaulley believes the benefits would come full circle.

"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?"


  • Kenny Reed

    “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” – Einstein..

    Need to inspire kids with science, math, biology, the beauty of stories, not bribe them with money.

  • Charlene Ecko

    More useless Millennials being taught they can put forth little to no effort and still receive rewards.

    The working-adult community doesn’t work that way. These types of “students” should be quite surprised when they enter the real world.

    This is yet another fantastic way to turn out unproductive freeloaders who contribute nothing to society.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I also personally think this is a form of bribery. This money should be put to a better use in the school system. Use it to better the education experience not bribe the kid to learn just enough to pass the test and then forget everything about it. Or to renovate the actual school to make a better place to learn in. This isn’t true education. When I was in school this would have never have been done. The teachers from that era actually cared and used creative ways to make education fun and interesting. They didn’t have to bribe the kids to make a good grade just so the school would look better and get an academic edge in the state. If the school is doing bad then get better educators and staff. I don’t have children of my own but I feel horrible for these kids. I feel like they are being taken advantage of and just pushed through the system. Good education or not. Children should be taught to make better grades to help them get into a better college to further their education and then to obtain a good well paying job in a field they love. Just the thought and excitement of that should be enough to motivate the students. Not money for passing a test.

  • steven Nowadler

    this is just one more reason to clean out this school board. are we going to have to bribe them for all standardized tests? what about spelling tests? are those not important enough to pay the students to take?

  • Smart Student

    As a high school senior student that made a 33 on the ACT, I feel like a cash incentive is very appealing. I put a lot of my hard earned money into tutoring services and at times I felt like it was not worth my time nor money. Finally after the fifth time, I achieved the score I needed to get full-ride scholarships. I feel like I should say I achieved a 25 my first go through on the test. This new ACT cash incentive will dramatically change the amount of students taking the test, and also give the students better motivation to do well. I wish I would have been able to receive this money. Good luck to the rest of the upcoming students!

  • Just Another Student

    I was a high school senior last year, and as much as getting paid to do well on the ACT would have benefited me, I feel education should be something earned through someone’s own inclination. It’s too often taken for granted and marginalized by all of the “little steps” we take on our way to earning a high school degree. In reality, you won’t be rewarded for every achievement you accomplish. Often, you won’t even be recognized for the large ones. Your motivation to do well should come from your own integrity, not through money.

  • High School Junior

    Personally, I love the idea. It is like getting paid for a job. I will need the money for scholarships, fees, gas, etc., and having an incentive to get that money is good. I think that students will actually try, which is a good thing, considering how many students don’t really care about schoolwork. Some of us need an incentive to be motivated, whether it is money or just wanting to do well. I think this is a very smart move (for once, lol) for the school board to be making.

  • Jennifer Johnson

    I don’t suppose the members of the school board happened to look into whether this has been tried elsewhere, have they? (Spoiler alert: it has, and it depending on who you ask, it either doesn’t work, or works very minimally.)

  • Don Maurizio

    I think this is sad!! Paying students for something they should be doing in the first place….studying, and passing. Especially since in other grades teachers have to use their own money in order for classes to have the supplies they need to operate. If Huntsville has so much money to give away then give it to the teachers for supplies for their classes not to students to do something they need to do anyway.

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