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The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Student Achievement

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  • Thomas Dee
  • Brian Jacob

Abstract

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act compelled states to design school-accountability systems based on annual student assessments. The effect of this Federal legislation on the distribution of student achievement is a highly controversial but centrally important question. This study presents evidence on whether NCLB has influenced student achievement based on an analysis of state-level panel data on student test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The impact of NCLB is identified using a comparative interrupted time series analysis that relies on comparisons of the test-score changes across states that already had school-accountability policies in place prior to NCLB and those that did not. Our results indicate that NCLB generated statistically significant increases in the average math performance of 4th graders (effect size = 0.22 by 2007) as well as improvements at the lower and top percentiles. There is also evidence of improvements in 8th grade math achievement, particularly among traditionally low-achieving groups and at the lower percentiles. However, we find no evidence that NCLB increased reading achievement in either 4th or 8th grade.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Dee & Brian Jacob, 2009. "The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 15531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15531
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769.
    2. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre Koning & Karen Wiel, 2012. "School Responsiveness to Quality Rankings: An Empirical Analysis of Secondary Education in the Netherlands," De Economist, Springer, vol. 160(4), pages 339-355, December.
    2. Burgess, Simon & Wilson, Deborah & Worth, Jack, 2013. "A natural experiment in school accountability: The impact of school performance information on pupil progress," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 57-67.
    3. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "How much do educational outcomes matter in OECD countries?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 26(67), pages 427-491, July.
    4. Bokhari, Farasat A.S. & Schneider, Helen, 2011. "School accountability laws and the consumption of psychostimulants," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 355-372, March.
    5. Gary T. Henry & Kevin C. Bastian & C. Kevin Fortner & David C. Kershaw & Kelly M. Purtell & Charles L. Thompson & Rebecca A. Zulli, 2014. "Teacher Preparation Policies and Their Effects on Student Achievement," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 9(3), pages 264-303, July.
    6. Burgess, Simon, 2016. "Human Capital and Education: The State of the Art in the Economics of Education," IZA Discussion Papers 9885, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Derek Neal, 2010. "Aiming for Efficiency Rather Than Proficiency," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 119-132, Summer.
    8. Glenn Ellison & Ashley Swanson, 2012. "Heterogeneity in High Math Achievement Across Schools: Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions," NBER Working Papers 18277, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Derek Neal, 2010. "Aiming for Efficiency Rather Than Proficency," Working Papers 2010-007, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    10. 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, vol. 12(1), pages 54-76, Winter.
    11. Elder, Todd & Jepsen, Christopher, 2014. "Are Catholic primary schools more effective than public primary schools?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 28-38.
    12. Roel Elk & Marc Steeg & Dinand Webbink, 2013. "Can Financial Incentives for Regional Education Authorities Reduce School Dropout?," De Economist, Springer, vol. 161(4), pages 367-398, December.
    13. Chingos, Matthew M., 2012. "The impact of a universal class-size reduction policy: Evidence from Florida's statewide mandate," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 543-562.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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