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Cramming: The Effects of School Accountability on College-Bound Students

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  • Colleen Donovan
  • David N. Figlio
  • Mark Rush

Abstract

This paper is the first to explore the effects of school accountability systems on high-achieving students' long-term performance. Using exceptional data from a large highly-selective state university, we relate school accountability pressure in high school to a student's university-level grades and study habits. We exploit a change in the state's accountability system in 1999 that led to some schools becoming newlythreatened by accountability pressure and others becoming newly-unthreatened to identify the effects of accountability pressure. We find that an accountability system based on a low-level test of basic skills apparently led to generally reduced performance by high-achieving students, while an accountability system based on a more challenging criterion-referenced exam apparently led to improved performance in college on mathematics and other technical subjects. Both types of systems are associated with increased "cramming" by students in college. The results indicate that the nature of an accountability system can influence its effectiveness.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12628.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12628

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References

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  1. Figlio, David N. & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 2006. "Do accountability and voucher threats improve low-performing schools?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 239-255, January.
  2. David N. Figlio, 2005. "Testing, Crime and Punishment," NBER Working Papers 11194, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Eric A. Hanushek & Margaret E. Raymond, 2004. "The Effect of School Accountability Systems on the Level and Distribution of Student Achievement," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 406-415, 04/05.
  4. David N. Figlio & Joshua Winicki, 2002. "Food for Thought: The Effects of School Accountability Plans on School Nutrition," NBER Working Papers 9319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Randall Reback & Julie Berry Cullen, 2006. "Tinkering toward accolades: School gaming under a performance accountability system," Working Papers 0601, Barnard College, Department of Economics.
  6. David N. Figlio & Lawrence S. Getzler, 2002. "Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System," NBER Working Papers 9307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Chiang, Hanley, 2009. "How accountability pressure on failing schools affects student achievement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1045-1057, October.
  2. Onji, Kazuki, 2013. "Estimating the effects of procrastination on performance: A small sample study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 85-90.
  3. Onji, Kazuki & Kikuchi, Rina, 2011. "Procrastination, prompts, and preferences: Evidence from daily records of self-directed learning activities," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 929-941.
  4. David N. Figlio & Mark Rush & Lu Yin, 2010. "Is it Live or is it Internet? Experimental Estimates of the Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning," NBER Working Papers 16089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David J. Deming & Sarah Cohodes & Jennifer Jennings & Christopher Jencks, 2013. "School Accountability, Postsecondary Attainment and Earnings," NBER Working Papers 19444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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