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