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

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  • Rajashri Chakrabarti

Abstract

The No Child Left Behind law mandated the institution of adequate yearly progress (AYP) objectives, on which schools are assigned a pass or fail. Fail status is associated with negative publicity and often sanctions. In this paper, I study the incentives and responses of schools that failed AYP once. Using data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and regression discontinuity designs, I find evidence in these schools of improvements in high-stakes reading and spillover effects to low-stakes language arts. The patterns are consistent with a focus on marginal students around the high-stakes cutoff, but this improvement did not come at the expense of the ends. Meanwhile, there is little evidence of improvement in high-stakes math or in low-stakes science and social studies. Performance in low-stakes grades suffered, as did performance in weaker subgroups despite their inclusion in AYP computations. While there is no evidence of robust effects in either test participation or graduation, attendance improved in threatened schools where it mattered for AYP. Finally, there is strong evidence in favor of response to incentives: Schools that failed AYP only in reading and/or math subsequently did substantially better in those subject areas. Credibility of threat mattered. AYP-failed schools that faced more competition responded more strongly and also more broadly, robust evidence in favor of improvements in all AYP objectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Rajashri Chakrabarti, 2011. "Incentives and responses under No Child Left Behind: credible threats and the role of competition," Staff Reports 525, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:525
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Gershenson, Seth & Holt, Stephen B. & Papageorge, Nicholas W., 2015. "Who Believes in Me? The Effect of Student-Teacher Demographic Match on Teacher Expectations," IZA Discussion Papers 9202, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. 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.
    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

    Education ; Public schools ; Reward (Psychology);

    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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