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Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System

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  • David N. Figlio
  • Lawrence S. Getzler

Abstract

The past several years have been marked by a general trend towards increased high-stakes testing for students and schools and test-based school accountability systems. There are many potential school responses to testing programs. This paper investigates the potential that schools respond by gaming the system through reshaping the test pool. Using student-level panel data from six large counties in Florida, we study whether the introduction of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in 1996 led schools to reclassify students as disabled and therefore ineligible to contribute to the school's aggregate test scores. Employing student-level fixed effect models and a series of secular trends as controls, we find that schools tend to reclassify low income and previously low performing students as disabled at significantly higher rates following the introduction of the testing regime. Moreover, these behaviors are concentrated among the low income schools most likely to be on the margin of failing the state's accountability system.

Suggested Citation

  • David N. Figlio & Lawrence S. Getzler, 2002. "Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System," NBER Working Papers 9307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9307
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Figlio, David N., 2006. "Testing, crime and punishment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 837-851, May.
    2. Cullen, Julie Berry, 2003. "The impact of fiscal incentives on student disability rates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1557-1589, August.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. David N. Figlio & Maurice E. Lucas, 2000. "What's in a Grade? School Report Cards and House Prices," NBER Working Papers 8019, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
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    JEL classification:

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

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