Students at a Washington, D.C., KIPP charter school earn pretend paychecks for completing homework, behaving well and improving academically and can trade the fake dollars for small items at the school store, like pens and pencil cases, or exchange it for rewards like being allowed to wear casual clothes on Fridays. The rewards motivate the children initially and help them develop better study habits. Eventually, however, success becomes its own reward, say the program's backers, such as principal Sarah Hayes of KEY Academy, which now shows some of D.C.'s top test scores despite its population of low-income, disadvantaged students.

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