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FAQ(s): Accountability: Do high-stakes systems raise student achievement?
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Short Run Impacts of Accountability on School Quality
To study the short run effects of accountability on student achievement in an effort to uncover the causal impacts of accountability grades on student and school outcomes. To study DOE school level data on student achievement to determine whether grades assignments in the fall of 2007 impacted student achievement in the early months of 2008.
Issue/Topic: Accountability
Author(s): Rockoff, Jonah; Turner, Lesley
Organization(s): Columbia University
Publication: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper
Published On: 2008
Findings/Results:

1. The results suggest that the new accountability system put in place had important effects in the months following its launch:

  • Schools that received very low accountability grades (F or D) saw improved test scores in math an...
2008-01-01T00:00:00
Accountability Texas-Style: The Progress and Learning of Urb...
To evaluate whether accountability policies and incentives are associated with changes in student achievement and whether they increase retention, dropout and disappearance of students from school, with emphasis on outcomes for low-income students and students of color.
Issue/Topic: Urban; Minority/Diversity Issues; Accountability; Assessment
Author(s): Heilig, Julian; Darling-Hammond, Linda
Organization(s): University of Texas at Austin; Stanford University
Publication: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Published On: 2008
Findings/Results:
  • Texas high-stakes testing polices that rewarded and punished schools based on average student scores created incentive for schools to “game the system” by excluding students from testing and, ultimately, school. These findings were...
2008-01-01T00:00:00
Grading New York: Accountability and Student Proficiency in ...
To study the influence of New York City’s school grading policy on student math and English language arts (ELA) achievement.
Issue/Topic: Accountability; Accountability--Reporting Results
Author(s): Winters, Marcus; Cowen, Joshua
Publication: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Published On: 2012
Findings/Results:

  • A school's receipt of an F-grade was directly related to higher student achievement the following year on ELA exams.
  • The positive effect from attending a school that received an F-grade persists for the stude...
2012-01-01T00:00:00
Shining a Light or Fumbling in the Dark? The Effects of NCLB...
This study examines whether subgroup-specific accountability pressure from NCLB has increased the math and reading achievement of students in focal subgroups and whether treatment effects are moderated by school type and student position in the prior test score distribution. Specifically, the authors ask whether schools in North Carolina respond to subgroup-specific accountability pressure from NCLB by raising the scores of disadvantaged students beyond what was occurring before NCLB.
Issue/Topic: Accountability
Publication: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Published On: 4/23/2012
Findings/Results: When it comes to accountability, subgroup-specific pressure works. The results show that when accountability pressure is tied to the performance of specific groups of students, those groups tend to improve more than when the accountability...
2012-04-23T00:00:00
Revisiting the Impact of NCLB High-Stakes School Accountabil...
This study updates and revisits earlier evaluations of the NCLB policy's impact with regard to progress toward the goal of improving proficiency for all students and narrowing student achievement gaps. It also tests the hypothesis that states with stronger educational capacity in place to produce desired student outcomes and with more timely, intensive, and rigorous implementation of accountability policy under NCLB would experience a more positive impact.
Issue/Topic: No Child Left Behind; No Child Left Behind--Results
Publication: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Published On: 4/23/2012
Findings/Results: By and large, there were highly mixed patterns of post-NCLB changes in terms of improving reading versus math achievement across the nation.

With regard to reading, the level of state average achievement as well as the pace of achieveme...

2012-04-23T00:00:00
Pressures of the Season: An Examination of Classroom Quality...
To investigate whether and how high-stakes accountability influences classroom quality
Issue/Topic: Accountability
Author(s): Plank, Stephen; Condliffe, Barbara
Organization(s): American Educational Research Association
Publication: American Educational Research Journal
Published On: 8/21/2013
Findings/Results:
  • There is reason to assert that fairly good pedagogical building blocks exist in the emotional support and classroom organization domains. Consistent with prior research, the authors, however, found distressingly low levels of instru...
2013-08-21T00:00:00
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