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No Child Left Behind: Estimating the Impact on Choices and Student Outcomes

  • Justine S. Hastings
  • Jeffrey M. Weinstein

Several recent education reform measures, including the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), couple school choice with accountability measures to allow parents of children in under-performing schools the opportunity to choose higher-performing schools. We use the introduction of NCLB in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District to determine if the choice component had an impact on the schools parents chose and if those changed choices led to academic gains. We find that 16% of parents responded to NCLB notification by choosing schools that had on average 1 standard deviation higher average test scores than their current NCLB school. We then use the lottery assignment of students to chosen schools to test if changed choices led to improved academic outcomes. On average, lottery winners experience a significant decline in suspension rates relative to lottery losers. We also find that students winning lotteries to attend substantially better (above-median) schools experience significant gains in test scores. Because proximity to high-scoring schools drives both the probability of choosing an alternative school and the average test score at the school chosen, our results suggest that the availability of proximate and high-scoring schools is an important factor in determining the degree to which school choice and accountability programs can succeed at increasing choice and immediate academic outcomes for students at under-performing schools.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13009.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13009.

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Date of creation: Apr 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13009
Note: CH ED PE
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  1. Daniel P. Mayer & Paul E. Peterson & David E. Myers & Christina Clark Tuttle & William G. Howell, 2002. "School Choice in New York City After Three Years: An Evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Program," Mathematica Policy Research Reports bd29adb569094778a5981be0e, Mathematica Policy Research.
  2. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian A Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2006. "The Effect of School Choice on Participants: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1191-1230, 09.
  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. David N. Figlio & Lawrence S. Getzler, 2002. "Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System," NBER Working Papers 9307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2006. "Preferences and Heterogeneous Treatment Effects in a Public School Choice Lottery," NBER Working Papers 12145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hastings, Justine S. & Kane, Thomas J. & Staiger, Douglas O., 2005. "Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program," Working Papers 10, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  7. David N. Figlio & Cecilia Rouse, 2005. "Do Accountability and Voucher Threats Improve Low-Performing Schools?," NBER Working Papers 11597, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:mpr:mprres:3180 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. 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.
  10. Martin R. West & Paul E. Peterson, 2006. "The Efficacy of Choice Threats Within School Accountability Systems: Results from Legislatively Induced Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages C46-C62, 03.
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