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Do Accountability and Voucher Threats Improve Low-Performing Schools?

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  • David N. Figlio
  • Cecilia Rouse

Abstract

In this paper we study the effects of the threat of school vouchers and school stigma in Florida on the performance of "low-performing" schools using student-level data from a subset of districts. Estimates of the change in school-level high-stakes test scores from the first year of the reform are consistent with the early results used by the state of Florida to claim large-scale improvements associated with the threat of voucher assignment. However, we also find that much of this estimated effect may be due to other factors. While we estimate a small relative improvement in reading scores on the high-stakes test for voucher-threatened/stigmatized schools, we estimate a much smaller relative improvement on a lower-stakes, nationally norm-referenced, test. Further, the relative gains in reading scores are explained largely by changing student characteristics. We find more evidence for a positive differential effect on math test scores on both the low- and highstakes tests, however, the results from the lower-stakes test appear primarily limited to students in the high-stakes grade. Finally, we find some evidence that the relative improvements following the introduction of the A Plan by low-performing schools were more due to the stigma of receiving the low grade rather than the threat of vouchers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11597.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Publication status: published as Figlio, David N. and Cecilia Elena Rouse. "Do Accountability And Voucher Threats Improve Low-Performing Schools?," Journal of Public Economics, 2006, v90(1-2,Jan), 239-255.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11597

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  1. Alan Krueger & Pei Zhu, 2002. "Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment," Working Papers 849, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Julie Berry Cullen & Randall Reback, 2006. "Tinkering Toward Accolades: School Gaming Under a Performance Accountability System," NBER Working Papers 12286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  4. David N. Figlio & Lawrence S. Getzler, 2002. "Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System," NBER Working Papers 9307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David N. Figlio & Cecilia Rouse, 2005. "Do Accountability and Voucher Threats Improve Low-Performing Schools?," NBER Working Papers 11597, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  7. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," NBER Working Papers 9413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Eric A. Hanushek & Margaret E. Raymond, 2002. "Improving educational quality: how best to evaluate our schools," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 47(Jun), pages 193-247.
  10. Figlio, David N., 2006. "Testing, crime and punishment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 837-851, May.
  11. Figlio, David N. & Winicki, Joshua, 2005. "Food for thought: the effects of school accountability plans on school nutrition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 381-394, February.
  12. Jacob, Brian A., 2005. "Accountability, incentives and behavior: the impact of high-stakes testing in the Chicago Public Schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 761-796, June.
  13. Frey, Donald E., 1992. "Can privatizing education really improve achievement? An essay review," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 427-438, December.
  14. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1998. "Private School Vouchers And Student Achievement: An Evaluation Of The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 553-602, May.
  15. David N. Figlio & Maurice E. Lucas, 2004. "What's in a Grade? School Report Cards and the Housing Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 591-604, June.
  16. Paul Peterson & William Howell & Patrick J. Wolf & David Campbell, 2003. "School Vouchers. Results from Randomized Experiments," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of School Choice, pages 107-144 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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