When it comes to compensating kids for good grades, the traditional thinking has pretty much been that learning is its own reward. And if not that, the actual good grades themselves are payment.

But in recent years, a new mindset has emerged: Why not give children financial incentives for achieving good grades? After all, in “the real world,” adults get paid for doing their jobs. In fact, a few years ago, some schools in Baltimore and New York City instituted programs to pay kids for improving test scores, while a couple of suburban Atlanta schools paid some students to attend an after-school “Learn & Earn” program.

If you’re thinking of reaching into your wallet whenever an ‘A’ grade lands on your child’s desk, there are some findings that may interest you.

A 2010 study conducted by Harvard economist Roland Fryer involved doling out $6.3 million to 38,000 students in 261 urban school districts. Various scenarios were tested, including paying students for each book they read or for every quiz they took or for achieving perfect test scores. Fryer’s conclusions: In some cases, paying for good grades had no effect whatsoever.

Fryer, though, did find a way to get some positive results by paying students. “Kids who got paid all year under a very elegant scheme performed significantly better on their standardized reading tests at the end of the year,” explains Time. “Statistically speaking, it was as if those kids had spent three extra months in school, compared with their peers who did not get paid.” Fryer concluded that simply paying for grades alone didn’t necessarily work, since the students might not know how to get the grades. On the other hand, “Paying students to do things they could control — hand in their homework, read, dress better — did indeed bolster these activities,” explains Fast Company.

Keeping those results in mind, if you’re thinking about paying your kids for good grades, we found some thought-provoking insights on the issue:

The endgame

Once you start paying your children for good grades, how long will you keep paying them, wonders Time. After all, this practice can get expensive after a while. Plus, if you stop paying them, will their grades fall? Adds Kiplinger, “If you go the ‘paycheck’ route, you have to keep raising the stakes — and once kids are old enough to earn their own money, you lose leverage.”

High grades vs. a good education

“It may be difficult for children to recognize the long-term impact of a good performance in school when they’re only anticipating their next ‘paycheck,'” notes Time. Thus, parents may need to ask themselves whether any benefits of paying kids for grades compensates for the possible disregard for education itself.

Reward alternatives

“Recognize that motivating your child with the promise of a shopping trip or day at the amusement park in exchange for good grades may have the same effect since these items are still associated with a price tag,” notes Time.

The going rates

If you decide paying your kids for good grades is the way to go, you may want to know what other parents are paying. A recent Harris Interactive poll conducted on behalf of the American Institute of CPAs concluded that $16 per ‘A’ grade is the average going rate.

Have you ever paid your kids to get good grades? What was the pay scale?