School Accountability under No Child Left Behind

    This project considers the world of school choice in terms of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). It is especially interested in school responses to the NCLB accountability requirements of meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and closing the achievement gap among low- and high-performing students. Do such requirements influence student test score gains? Do supplemental educational services make a difference? And as charter and regular public schools seek to avoid AYP designation, how do they allocate resources?

    Test score gains may be considered a function of the incentives schools have to focus instruction on below-proficient students. Findings from this study show that NCLB’s threat of sanctions are positively correlated with test score gains by below-proficient students in failing schools; greater than expected test score gains by below-proficient students do not occur at the expense of high-performing students in failing schools. Results from the first statewide study of resource allocation show no evidence that failing schools target students near the state-defined proficiency threshold. In the state under study, public schools that had failed to make AYP focused instruction on the entire range of low-performing students in the subsequent school year, and did so without negative impact on high-performing students. It is important to note that reported findings have a particular meaning in this context because the study cannot know how these students would have fared in the complete absence of NCLB. Further data collection and analyses on SES and resource allocation are ongoing.

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The NCSC is funded by a 5 year, $13.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. Its lead institution is Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. The center is housed on the campus of Peabody College, one of the nation's top graduate schools of education.