Kipp Bayview Academy: Paycheck Program « Center on Educational Governance (CEG)

Kipp Bayview Academy: Paycheck Program

Practice Area: Student Discipline

Kipp Bayview Academy:
Paycheck Program

KIPP Bayview Academy

San Francisco, California
Founded 2003
211 students
Grades 5-7
85% African-American, 4% Hispanic, 1% Asian, 0% White, 10% Other
2% English language learners
15% Special needs
85% Receive subsidized meals
Teachers not part of collective bargaining unit

Source: Center on Educational Governance, 2006.

KIPP Bayview is one of 38 schools in
the KIPP network, which spans 15 states and the District of Columbia. KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) opens schools in economically disadvantaged areas where school performance lags. KIPP schools instill a rigorous core curriculum and high expectations for performance and behavior, to make students believe they should attend college and can succeed there.

The Paycheck Program is a system of rewards, incentives and punishments that shapes student behavior by issuing weekly “paychecks” good for merchandise at the school store. “Pay” is debited for misbehavior; parents must endorse the checks before they can be spent, thus ensuing they’re aware of their child’s conduct.

The school credits the Paycheck Program with helping to create the school’s high expectation for student behavior, which underlies academic progress. KIPP Bayview’s African American students (85 percent of the student body) outperformed their African American peers in the school district on every aspect of the California Standards Test, the school reported.


The KIPP network has used this behavior reward model throughout its schools in some form, so KIPP Bayview had a model from which to work for its Paycheck Program.

Each Friday, KIPP Bayview students begin with a balance of $100. Deductions range from $20 for missing school for any reason to $5 for a major infraction (late arrival, disrespect, inappropriate behavior) to $2 for a minor infraction. Exceptional behavior may be rewarded with a 10-point bonus, but no other payments occur.

More than $90 for a week is considered excellent behavior. The consequences of scoring below $70 are to spend the next week in a noontime detention called “The Zone” and possibly Saturday detention instead of electives. However, excellent behavior in all classes the following week can reduce one’s stay in The Zone: Positive reinforcement is a pillar of the KIPP system.

Each student’s behavior is monitored throughout each day by each one of his teachers, who record on a spreadsheet on a clipboard. Homeroom teachers enter the data in the computer weekly (a 10 to 15 minute task), print the paychecks and write personal, encouraging notes on each one.

Students take their paychecks, which detail very specific behavior infractions, home for parents to review and endorse them. The students then deposit the checks at school and can spend their “cash” at the school store on school supplies or uniforms, or at monthly auctions.

Those who maintain a high median dollar amount earn occasional outings (to a rock climbing gym, for example) and an end-of-the-year, out-of-town trip that mixes fun with glimpses of college life, such as a seventh-grade trip to several California universities plus Universal Studios.


The program’s $25,000 budget covered the year-end trips for fifth- and sixth-graders, supplies for the school store and auction items (sports cards, stuffed animals, college T-shirts, a group trip to buy school supplies with a teacher after school or to buy ice cream with the principal).

The only extra facility required is a location on campus for the student store.

Lessons Learned

The KIPP Bayview staff has found the Paycheck Program to be an excellent tool for student discipline, but have noted that the challenge is keeping teachers from relying on it too much.

“Management and motivation come from the teacher, not from the paycheck,” the principal has said. “The paycheck just records what happens.”


The Paycheck Program has achieved its primary goal, improving student behavior and communication between students and faculty. When the principal hands out the paychecks on Friday afternoon, positive conversations usually result. Immediate reinforcement of the students’ behaviors makes them think about consequences and better understand expectations, the staff members have said.

Communication with parents has been amplified as well. Weekly feedback on a child’s behavior prompts regular dialogue between parents and teachers.


Center on Educational Governance
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