The Dynamic Effects of Educational Accountability

52 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2012 Last revised: 19 Mar 2015

See all articles by Hugh Macartney

Hugh Macartney

Duke University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 1, 2015


This paper provides the first evidence that value-added education accountability schemes induce dynamic distortions. Extending earlier dynamic moral hazard models, I propose a new test for ratchet effects, showing that classroom inputs are distorted less when schools face a shorter horizon over which they can influence student performance. I then exploit grade span variation using rich educational data to credibly identify the extent of dynamic gaming, fi nding compelling evidence of ratchet effects based on a triple-differences approach. Further analysis indicates that these effects are driven primarily by effort distortions, with teacher reallocations playing a secondary role.

Keywords: Dynamic Gaming, Dynamic Incentives, Ratchet E ffects, Educational Accountability, Education Production

JEL Classification: D82, I21, J24, J33, M52

Suggested Citation

Macartney, Hugh, The Dynamic Effects of Educational Accountability (March 1, 2015). Economic Research Initiatives at Duke (ERID) Working Paper No. 126, Available at SSRN: or

Hugh Macartney (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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