Good grades may have lost their currency in the school yard, but a new program paying students for their As, Bs and even Cs could be sending the wrong message, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

Up to 5,000 freshmen at 20 public high schools in Chicago will be tested every five weeks in five different subjects, the Tribune reports. An average grade of C earns students $20, a B pulls in $35 and an A is worth $50 — half in cash up front and the rest to be paid out upon graduation.

A straight-A student can earn $4,000 by the end of sophomore year through the Harvard-developed program, according to the newspaper.

Some, like chief executive of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan, applaud the introduction of a “middle class” incentive to the mostly lower-income district. But others aren’t so keen in this very literal investment in education, according to the Tribune.

Sol Stern, a researcher at the conservative Manhattan Institute, tells the Tribune such programs are little more than bribery."Don't beat up your teacher — we'll give you money," he quips.

And Swarthmore College psychology professor Barry Schwartz says the program might get results on paper, but it won’t make students any smarter. "Instead of trying to cultivate an interest in learning, curiosity … you are just turning this into another job.”

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