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The influence of an NCLB accountability plan on the distribution of student test score gains


  • Springer, Matthew G.


Previous research on the effect of accountability programs on the distribution of student test score gains is decidedly mixed. This study examines the issue by estimating an educational production function in which test score gains are a function of the incentives schools have to focus instruction on below-proficient students. NCLB's threat of sanctions are positively correlated with test score gains by below-proficient students in failing schools; greater than expected test score gains by below-proficient students do not occur at the expense of high-performing students in failing schools. This pattern of results tends to suggest that failing schools were able to benefit low-performing students in ways that were consistent with having operational slack, and that the threat of sanctions may stimulate greater productivity within failing schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Springer, Matthew G., 2008. "The influence of an NCLB accountability plan on the distribution of student test score gains," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 556-563, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:27:y:2008:i:5:p:556-563

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Burgess, Simon & Propper, Carol & Slater, Helen & Wilson, Deborah, 2005. "Who wins and who loses from school accountability? The distribution of educational gain in English secondary schools," CEPR Discussion Papers 5248, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Kenneth Y. Chay & Patrick J. McEwan & Miguel Urquiola, 2005. "The Central Role of Noise in Evaluating Interventions That Use Test Scores to Rank Schools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1237-1258, September.
    4. Martin R. West & Paul E. Peterson, 2006. "The Efficacy of Choice Threats Within School Accountability Systems: Results from Legislatively Induced Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 46-62, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Winters, Marcus A. & Trivitt, Julie R. & Greene, Jay P., 2010. "The impact of high-stakes testing on student proficiency in low-stakes subjects: Evidence from Florida's elementary science exam," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 138-146, February.
    2. Chakrabarti, Rajashri, 2014. "Incentives and responses under No Child Left Behind: Credible threats and the role of competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 124-146.
    3. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    4. Pallas, Aaron M., 2010. "Meeting the basic educational needs of children and youth," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1199-1210, September.
    5. Shao-Hsun Keng, 2016. "The Effect of a Stricter Academic Dismissal Policy on Course Selection, Student Effort, and Grading Leniency," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(2), pages 203-224, Spring.
    6. Rezende, Marcelo, 2010. "The effects of accountability on higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 842-856, October.
    7. Krieg, John M., 2011. "Which students are left behind? The racial impacts of the No Child Left Behind Act," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 654-664, August.
    8. Graves, Jennifer, 2011. "Effects of year-round schooling on disadvantaged students and the distribution of standardized test performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1281-1305.
    9. Dale Ballou & Matthew G. Springer, 2017. "Has NCLB Encouraged Educational Triage? Accountability and the Distribution of Achievement Gains," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 12(1), pages 77-106, Winter.
    10. Hemelt, Steven W., 2011. "Performance effects of failure to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Evidence from a regression discontinuity framework," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 702-723, August.
    11. Helen F. Ladd & Douglas L. Lauen, 2010. "Status versus growth: The distributional effects of school accountability policies," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 426-450.

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