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Tinkering Toward Accolades: School Gaming Under a Performance Accountability System

  • Julie Berry Cullen
  • Randall Reback

We explore the extent to which schools manipulate the composition of students in the test-taking pool in order to maximize ratings under Texas' accountability system in the 1990s. We first derive predictions from a static model of administrators' incentives given the structure of the ratings criteria, and then test these predictions by comparing differential changes in exemption rates across student subgroups within campuses and across campuses and regimes. Our analyses uncover evidence of a moderate degree of strategic behavior, so that there is some tension between designing systems that account for heterogeneity in student populations and that are manipulation-free.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12286.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12286.

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Date of creation: Jun 2006
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Publication status: published as Gronberg. T. and D. Jansen (eds.) Improving School Accountability: Check-Ups or Choice, Advances in Applied Microeconomics 14. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 2006.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12286
Note: CH ED
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation Of The Prevalence And Predictors Of Teacher Cheating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 843-877, August.
  2. Eric A. Hanushek & Margaret E. Raymond, 2004. "Does School Accountability Lead to Improved Student Performance?," NBER Working Papers 10591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. James J. Heckman & Carolyn Heinrich & Jeffrey Smith, 2002. "The Performance of Performance Standards," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 778-811.
  4. Julie Berry Cullen, 1999. "The Impact of Fiscal Incentives on Student Disability Rates," NBER Working Papers 7173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David N. Figlio, 2005. "Testing, Crime and Punishment," NBER Working Papers 11194, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith & Christopher Taber, 1996. "What Do Bureaucrats Do? The Effects of Performance Standards and Bureaucratic Preferences on Acceptance into the JTPA Program," NBER Working Papers 5535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ladd, Helen F., 2001. "School-Based Educational Accountability Systems: The Promise and the Pitfalls," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 2), pages 385-400, June.
  8. Kathryn Anderson & Richard V. Burkhauser & Jennie E. Raymond, 1993. "The effect of creaming on placement rates under the Job Training Partnership Act," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 613-624, July.
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