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Incentives and responses under No Child Left Behind: Credible threats and the role of competition

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  • Chakrabarti, Rajashri

Abstract

NCLB mandated the institution of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) objectives, and schools are assigned an AYP pass/fail based on performance in these objectives. AYP-fail status is associated with negative publicity and often sanctions. Using data from Wisconsin and alternate regression discontinuity designs, I study the incentives and responses of schools that failed AYP once. Math-induced AYP-failures showed strong improvements in math, while reading-induced AYP-failures showed marked improvements in reading. Consistent with incentives, these schools showed no positive effect in other high stakes objectives. In contrast, test-participation failures showed no effect in either high stakes reading or math, while they showed some evidence of positive (though not statistically significant) effects in test participation. Improvements in reading are associated with parallel effects in low stakes language arts (possibly due to spillover effects), while there is no evidence of effects in low stakes science or social studies. Nor is there evidence of effects on graduation rates. Performance in low stakes grades suffered, and so did performance in weaker subgroups in spite of their inclusion in AYP computations. There is evidence of focus on marginal students around high stakes cutoffs in subject areas AYP-failed schools improved in, but this did not come at the expense of ends. Credibility of threat mattered—AYP-failed schools that faced more competition responded considerably more strongly in the objectives they had incentives in.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:110:y:2014:i:c:p:124-146 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.08.005
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    Cited by:

    1. Seth Gershenson & Stephen B. Holt & Nicholas Papageorge, 2015. "Who Believes in Me? The Effect of Student-Teacher Demographic Match on Teacher Expectations," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 15-231, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    2. Seth Gershenson, 2016. "Performance Standards and Employee Effort: Evidence From Teacher Absences," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(3), pages 615-638, June.
    3. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2017. "Adequate (or Adipose?) Yearly Progress: Assessing the Effect of “No Child Left Behind” on Children's Obesity," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, pages 54-76.
    4. Thomas Ahn & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2014. "When Incentives Matter Too Much: Explaining Significant Responses to Irrelevant Information," NBER Working Papers 20321, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2017. "Adequate (or Adipose?) Yearly Progress: Assessing the Effect of “No Child Left Behind” on Children's Obesity," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, pages 54-76.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    No Child Left Behind; Incentives; Public school performance; Regression discontinuity;

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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