theodp writes "Harvard economist Roland Fryer Jr. did something education researchers almost never do: he ran a randomized experiment in hundreds of classrooms in Chicago, Dallas, Washington, and New York to help answer a controversial question: Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School? He used mostly private money to pay 18,000 kids a total of $6.3 million and brought in a team of researchers to help him analyze the effects. He got death threats, but he carried on. His findings? If incentives are designed wisely, it appears, payments can indeed boost kids' performance as much as or more than many other reforms you've heard about before — and for a fraction of the cost."