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

43 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2011

See all articles by Randall Reback

Randall Reback

Columbia University, Barnard College - Department of Economics

Jonah E. Rockoff

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Heather Schwartz

RAND Corporation

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 1, 2011

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

Reback, Randall L. and Rockoff, Jonah E. and Schwartz, Heather, Under Pressure: Job Security, Resource Allocation, and Productivity in Schools Under NCLB (January 1, 2011). Columbia Business School Research Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1915403 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1915403

Randall L. Reback

Columbia University, Barnard College - Department of Economics ( email )

3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Jonah E. Rockoff (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Heather Schwartz

RAND Corporation ( email )

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