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Cramming: The Effects of School Accountability on College-Bound Students

Author

Listed:
  • Colleen Donovan
  • David N. Figlio
  • Mark Rush

Abstract

This paper is the first to explore the effects of school accountability systems on high-achieving students' long-term performance. Using exceptional data from a large highly-selective state university, we relate school accountability pressure in high school to a student's university-level grades and study habits. We exploit a change in the state's accountability system in 1999 that led to some schools becoming newlythreatened by accountability pressure and others becoming newly-unthreatened to identify the effects of accountability pressure. We find that an accountability system based on a low-level test of basic skills apparently led to generally reduced performance by high-achieving students, while an accountability system based on a more challenging criterion-referenced exam apparently led to improved performance in college on mathematics and other technical subjects. Both types of systems are associated with increased "cramming" by students in college. The results indicate that the nature of an accountability system can influence its effectiveness.

Suggested Citation

  • Colleen Donovan & David N. Figlio & Mark Rush, 2006. "Cramming: The Effects of School Accountability on College-Bound Students," NBER Working Papers 12628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12628 Note: CH ED
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12628.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Figlio, David N. & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 2006. "Do accountability and voucher threats improve low-performing schools?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 239-255, January.
    2. Figlio, David N., 2006. "Testing, crime and punishment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 837-851, May.
    3. Julie Berry Cullen & Randall Reback, 2006. "Tinkering Toward Accolades: School Gaming Under a Performance Accountability System," NBER Working Papers 12286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Figlio, David N. & Winicki, Joshua, 2005. "Food for thought: the effects of school accountability plans on school nutrition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 381-394, February.
    5. David N. Figlio & Lawrence S. Getzler, 2002. "Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System," NBER Working Papers 9307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. David J. Deming & Sarah Cohodes & Jennifer Jennings & Christopher Jencks, 2016. "School Accountability, Postsecondary Attainment, and Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(5), pages 848-862, December.
    2. Richardson, J.T., 2015. "Accountability incentives and academic achievement: Distributional impacts of accountability when standards are set low," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-16.
    3. Diette Timothy M. & Helms Sara E., 2014. "Trading the Television for a Textbook?: High School Exit Exams and Student Behavior," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(3), pages 1-22, July.
    4. Onji, Kazuki, 2013. "Estimating the effects of procrastination on performance: A small sample study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 85-90.
    5. Onji, Kazuki & Kikuchi, Rina, 2011. "Procrastination, prompts, and preferences: Evidence from daily records of self-directed learning activities," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 929-941.
    6. Chiang, Hanley, 2009. "How accountability pressure on failing schools affects student achievement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1045-1057, October.
    7. David Figlio & Mark Rush & Lu Yin, 2013. "Is It Live or Is It Internet? Experimental Estimates of the Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(4), pages 763-784.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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