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Does School Accountability Lead to Improved Student Performance?

  • Eric A. Hanushek
  • Margaret E. Raymond

The leading school reform policy in the United States revolves around strong accountability of schools with consequences for performance. The federal government's involvement through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 reinforces the prior movement of many states toward policies based on measured student achievement. Analysis of state achievement growth as measured by the National Assessment of Educational progress shows that accountability systems introduced during the 1990s had a clear positive impact on student achievement. This single policy instrument did not, however, also lead to any narrowing in the black-white achievement gap (though it did narrow the Hispanic-white achievement gap). Moreover, the balck-white gap appears to have been harmed over the decade by increasing minority concentrations in the schools. An additional issue surrounding stronger accountability has been a concern about unintended consequences related to such things as higher exclusion rates from testing, increased drop-out rates, and the like. Our analysis of special education placement rates, a frequently identified area of concern, does not show any responsiveness to the introduction of accountability systems.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10591.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Hanushek, Eric A. and Margaret F. Raymond. "Does School Accountability Lead To Improved Student Performance?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2005, v24(2,Spring), 297-327.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10591
Note: ED PE CH
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  1. Hanushek, E-A & Rivkin, S-G & Taylor, L-L, 1995. "Aggregation and the Estimated Effects of School Resources," RCER Working Papers 397, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  2. David N. Figlio & Lawrence S. Getzler, 2002. "Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System," NBER Working Papers 9307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 2002. "New Evidence about Brown v. Board of Education: The Complex Effects of School Racial Composition on Achievement," NBER Working Papers 8741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Eric A. Hanushek, 1979. "Conceptual and Empirical Issues in the Estimation of Educational Production Functions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(3), pages 351-388.
  6. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  7. Eric A. Hanushek, 2001. "Black-White Achievement Differences and Governmental Interventions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 24-28, May.
  8. Eric A. Hanushek, 2004. "Some Simple Analytics of School Quality," NBER Working Papers 10229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Eric A. Hanushek & Margaret E. Raymond, 2002. "Improving educational quality: how best to evaluate our schools," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 47(Jun), pages 193-247.
  10. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  11. Eric A. Hanushek & Julie A. Somers, 1999. "Schooling, Inequality, and the Impact of Government," NBER Working Papers 7450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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