I have never been a fan of rewards for much of anything, especially in education. Motivation needs to be intrinsic, not extrinsic. I don't give stickers, check marks or cute pencils. I don't bribe my students. I excite them and make learning fun and interesting and powerful. Everyone likes power!
I was thinking about this as I saw a headline at HuffPo: Tim Kaine: Those Who Back Reform Will Be Rewarded. I didn't bother reading it, but it's about health insurance reform (not health CARE reform, btw).
Then we have RTTT (race to the top) which, as its premise, is a reward structure based on flimsy-to-erroneous evidence about schools, students, teachers and the rest. RTTT basically makes states and districts 'Do what we (the DOE) want and get a reward, whether what we want works or not.'
Of course we have the bankers who are rewarding themselves for fucking up the economy--with our money.
Can we please get away from rewarding people to motivate them? All it does is make us more disparate, angry, depressed, and individual--to the detriment of society. Rewards should be bestowed, not expected.
For some discussion of rewards for education outcomes, look here, here and here.