So we are having this “loss aversion” contest. The idea is that teachers will work hard to avoid loss than they will to win a bonus.

Roland Fryer and colleagues say that this works. Offer teachers a bonus at the beginning of the year and take it away if the scores don’t go up.

I thought we have a winner when a reader suggested taking away the teacher’s first born.

But that idea pales next to this one. This looks like a winner.

Don’t threaten the teacher. Threaten the kiddies!

What do you think?

This is for elementary students and would work particularly well when high stakes tests are pushed down to the K-3 grade band.

The mistake in the original plan is that it focuses on having teachers have to avoid loss. That’s simply one layer removed from the REAL target: the kiddoes being tested. After all, the threat of the teacher’s loss of $4000 means little or nothing to them.

So near the beginning of the school year, the teacher buys several lovable classroom pets. Perhaps a class bunny, kitty, and puppy would have maximum appeal, but the skillful teacher will be sure to find out in advance what animals are most beloved to the children s/he’ll be working with.

And then, after ample time has passed to ensure that every child is head-over-heels in love with at least one of the animals, signs go up over each pet’s enclosure that read, “If your test scores don’t go up, I’ll shoot this [puppy/kitty/bunny, respectively]. Love, Ms. Williams”

I’m confident that those students who don’t succumb to nervous breakdowns in short order will kick some serious high-stakes test bootay.