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Under Pressure: Job Security, Resource Allocation, and Productivity in Schools Under NCLB

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  • Randall Reback
  • Jonah Rockoff
  • Heather L. Schwartz

Abstract

The most sweeping federal education law in decades, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, requires states to administer standardized exams and to punish schools that do not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the fraction of students passing these exams. While the literature on school accountability is well-established, there exists no nationwide study of the strong short-term incentives created by NCLB for schools on the margin of failing AYP. We assemble the first comprehensive, national, school-level dataset concerning detailed performance measures used to calculate AYP, and demonstrate that idiosyncrasies in state policies create numerous cases where schools near the margin for satisfying their own state's AYP requirements would have almost certainly failed or almost certainly made AYP if they were located in other states. Using this variation as a means of identification, we examine the impact of NCLB on the behavior of school personnel and students' academic achievement in nationally representative samples. We find that accountability pressure from NCLB lowers teachers' perceptions of job security and causes untenured teachers in high-stakes grades to work longer hours than their peers. We also find that NCLB pressure has either neutral or positive effects on students' enjoyment of learning and their achievement gains on low-stakes exams in reading, math, and science.

Suggested Citation

  • Randall Reback & Jonah Rockoff & Heather L. Schwartz, 2011. "Under Pressure: Job Security, Resource Allocation, and Productivity in Schools Under NCLB," NBER Working Papers 16745, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16745
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16745.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rajashri Chakrabarti, 2013. "Vouchers, Public School Response, And The Role Of Incentives: Evidence From Florida," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 500-526, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:58:y:2017:i:c:p:55-67 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Dale Ballou & Matthew G. Springer, 2017. "Has NCLB Encouraged Educational Triage? Accountability and the Distribution of Achievement Gains," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 12(1), pages 77-106, Winter.
    3. Chakrabarti, Rajashri, 2014. "Incentives and responses under No Child Left Behind: Credible threats and the role of competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 124-146.
    4. repec:umc:wpaper:1308 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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